Life-saving lesson ends with teen paralysed

Life-saving lesson ends with teen paralysed
Friday, Aug 10, 2012
The New Paper
By Hedy Khoo

Photo above: The Hougang Swimming Complex where the boy, who was 15 years old then, was found motionless and submerged.

He had wanted to learn how to save drowning victims.

But in a cruel twist three years ago, it was Boey Chun Hian who required saving.

Life-saving instructors found the teenager, submerged and motionless at Hougang Swimming Complex.

The near-drowning incident has left him bedridden and unable to speak or communicate with those around him.

He also has to be fed through tubes because he is unable to eat, and requires round-the-clock nursing care.

Now his father, Mr Boey Ghim Huat, is suing the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), which operates Hougang Swimming Complex, for negligence.

His lawyers, Mr Dominic Chan and Mr Goh Choon Wah from Characterist LLC, filed a writ of summons on May 17.

The statement of claim alleges that the accident or injury was caused by the SSC's breach in duty to ensure the safety of Chun Hian, who was a user of the swimming pool, and the SSC is liable for the alleged negligence by its lifeguards during the incident.

Mr Boey said in his claim that on the evening of June 20, 2009, Chun Hian, who was then 15, was taking a life-saving course conducted by Mr Ian Neo Meng Yong from Angel Lifesaver School.

Another two senior instructors from the same school, Mr Benjamin Tan Jun Jie and Mr Koh Jia Wei, were in the pool conducting their own life-saving courses.

The claim alleges that Mr Neo spotted Chun Hian motionless in the water. He lifted the teenager out, assisted by the other two instructors, who then performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the youngster.

The statement of claim alleges that the lifeguards on duty that day, SSC employees Albert Law and Ong Kian Hwa, arrived later and assisted in administering CPR on Chun Hian, using an air-viva and an automated external defibrillator.

Chun Hian was then taken to Changi General Hospital, where he was warded for 44 days.

Mr Boey claims that his son suffered "severe and permanent personal injuries" arising from the incident.

He was diagnosed to have suffered severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy - inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain.

Mr Boey's claim is that the SSC "failed to station qualified lifeguards at the swimming pool to ensure the safety of users" and that its lifeguards stationed were "inexperienced and/or inadequately trained".

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