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Near drowning at Virgin Active angers boy’s family

The traumatised family of a three-year-old boy who nearly drowned at Virgin Active Sandton insist the gym’s negligence nearly cost them their son’s life.

But Virgin Active said they adhered to their strict emergency protocol in treating the child.

Mumtaz Chohan-Gani and Ahmed Gani and their three children were in a pool at the gym when, after looking away for a moment, they spotted their son, Huzaifah, floating unconscious.

“When I got to my son and lifted him up (out of the water), I realised that he was not breathing and he’d turned completely blue,” said Chohan-Gani.

She called out to her son but he was unresponsive. Chohan-Gani then laid him down outside the pool and screamed for her husband to get help.

Gani said when he ran into other parts of the gym he found no one to assist him. It was only when he reached reception that he found someone available.

“My husband returned and almost a minute later, Sifiso, a gym staff member, comes in. Another colleague brings in a first-aid kit, and puts it at his feet. For the duration that I’m there performing CPR, he did not offer to help me or ask if I’m medically trained,” Chohan-Gani said. “While he was standing there, I asked him if they had a defibrillator and he said ‘no’.”

Chohan-Gani claims staff also did not offer to call for paramedics, or assist with their other children.

“We were never offered anything by anyone in Virgin Active. The Kauai (restaurant staff members) also came out of the shop to watch the whole thing play out. By the time my son came around, we decided to take him to hospital, but no one offered us any assistance,” Chohan-Gani said.

Virgin Active staff took their contact details and called them to find out about Huzaifah’s condition. But Chohan-Gani said they made it clear to them that they wanted to discuss their negligence.

Virgin Active spokesperson Les Aupiais said the gym has strict protocol for emergencies, and that their staff are adequately trained.

“Should any staff member fail to meet these standards – which we do not believe was the case in this incident – Virgin Active would investigate fully and if necessary follow disciplinary procedures,” Aupiais said in a statement.

Aupiais told The Star that footage of the gym’s interiors showed Huzaifah was not unconscious.

However, she said the gym’s management were willing to meet with the family if they reached out to them again.

“We have only had positive feedback from the parents by phone calls – two of them – so we would await their direct contact with us in order to do so,” Aupiais said.

The family said they would seek legal advice because they feel Virgin Active was negligent.

Source : The Star

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