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Procedures to be reviewed following pond tragedy in Gosport
11:15am Friday 24th February 2012 in Fareham
EMERGENCY services are working together to review their procedures after a man was left floating in a pond for more than half an hour.
The family of Simon Burgess, 41, who drowned in a Gosport boating lake, have criticised emergency crews for failing to attempt to rescue him for almost 40 minutes.
Mr Burgess is understood to have suffered an epileptic fit as he retrieved a bag from the 3ft deep Walpole Lake.
The lack of action by emergency services has made national headlines. There are now moves to ensure similar incidents are never repeated.
Believing he was already dead firefighters called to the scene did not immediately attend to Mr Burgess and instead waited for a specialist team to retrieve him 37 minutes later.
Earlier this week an inquest heard that a paramedic and PC Tony Jones volunteered to go into the water but fire station watch manager Tony Nicholls took the decision that Mr Burgess was already dead so the incident was a body recovery rather than a rescue.
Recording a verdict of accidental death the coroner called on emergency services to examine their protocols to “give the best possible guidance”
for situations where a life may hang in the balance.
The county’s fire, police and ambulance service have now pledged to review their procedures together.
Chair of Hampshire Fire Authority, Royston Smith, said it was important their protocols were the same – but denied the firefighters had been hindered by health and safety rules, saying: “The policies of all the emergency services need to align so that everyone is doing the same thing.
“The media have taken the line that they did not go in to help a drowning man – but they arrived 15 minutes after he fell in, there were no signs of life and he was face down.
They decided to wait for professionals to do a dignified removal.”
Hampshire Constabulary and South Central Ambulance confirmed that their policy when working near water is that the rescue is the task of other emergency services.
Police have already carried out an internal reviewand plans to act on the issues raised by the coroner. A spokesperson for the ambulance service said it would review the processes and ways staff work together with Hampshire Fire and Rescue.
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