The mother of a young girl nearly strangled after being caught in a rope attached to a slide is questioning why this ever happened, according to a report in the Dominion Post (28 August 2010).
A teacher performed CPR and the girl was taken to hospital by ambulance. As a result of the incident the girl had swelling around her trachea and trauma around her throat.
Imagine what the teachers would have felt and thought during and after this incident.
Imagine what thoughts must have flashed through the minds of other parents about the safety of their own child and their trust in the kindergarten.
Children who witnessed the accident are very likely to take this horrifying memory with them as one of their early memories of life as a preschooler.
Imagine the impact this has had on the girl and for the rest of her life. One doesn't easily forget trauma.
Should this be "one of those things that happens" in an early childhood environment?
What this incident reminds us about, as have other potentially fatal and fatal incidents in the past, is the importance of common sense.
It could be argued that its not common sense to attach a rope to a slide. Though if a teacher was right beside the slide, not distracted by other things going on around, and actively assisting then maybe it was an accident that couldn't be avoided. We don't have the full details.
There have been other incidents reported in the past when children's lives have been endangered and there could well be others that never make the headlines. You might recall for example the time when a group of early childcare teachers and children decided to take a short-cut when out on a walk through a Wellington motorway tunnel.
Under the Health and Safety and Employment Act all early childhood services must ensure that any equipment used is arranged so that it is a safe.
A rope attached to a slide is not typically something that most would consider safe, especially as young children may use a rope in various ways.
The Wellington Kindergarten Association which manages the kindergarten at which this incident occurred has a policy that "every year senior teachers will provide training for teachers within their staff meeting programme covering environmental checks and safe practices". The Education Ministry is reported by the Dominion Post newspaper to be waiting on a report from a senior teacher.
The teachers at the kindergarten may be under some stress at the moment and they along with the kindergarten community should be supported in trying to cope with all that has happened.
The chain of accountability sits at the top - with managers/owners/association boards and managment committees.
It's a reminder to review what training and support on safe practices is given to staff and how often, and to refresh knowledge of obligations to provide a safe environment and eliminate or control hazards.