Raised Platform Collapse in Winnipeg During School Field Trip Sends 16 Children to Hospital

Raised Platform Collapse in Winnipeg During School Field Trip Sends 16 Children to Hospital
The Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, in June 2019. (Google Maps/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Marnie Cathcart

A teacher and 16 children in Grade 5 were injured during a field trip after a raised bridge collapsed at Fort Gibraltar, a historic site in Winnipeg.

The accident happened on May 31 after a wooden, raised bridge-like structure collapsed, causing the group to fall from an estimated height of 16 to 18 feet, according to authorities. Some children reported they heard a cracking sound just before the platform collapsed.

The 17 injured were transported to the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) hospital, with those children in the most serious condition sent in six ambulances, and the remainder being transported in the Major Incident Response Vehicle, a vehicle the size of a bus that offers mobile trauma treatment.
Three of the children are in unstable condition while the other 13 children and one teacher are in stable condition, CBC reported. One male child requires overnight hospitalization and orthopedic surgery, according to Dr. Karen Gripp, a pediatric emergency physician.
“It could have been so, so much worse,” Gripp said outside the hospital at a media briefing. “We were prepared for the worst.”

Gripp said originally the hospital was told to expect 30 injured children, then 20, and the final number was approximately 17. “There was a wooden structure that fell and some children fell ... some fell directly. And there were also some children who slid down on the structure from the injury patterns that we saw,” she said.

“We were prepared as best we can for the most severe injuries. We had our adult surgery and our pediatric surgery colleagues, our adult orthopedic surgeons, our pediatric orthopedic surgeons, our emergency medicine colleagues, our trauma surgeons, all available.”

The doctor said they were prepared to resuscitate children as needed, before knowing the extent of the injuries.

“Fortunately, that was not needed,” she said. “We had empty rooms, we had nurses.” The doctor said that some children had to wait for X-rays and CT scans, and that the hospital first treated the children who were transported on backboards or with spinal immobilization devices. At the time of the news conference, she said roughly half of the children had been discharged.

The children were from St. John's Ravenscourt School, a private school.

Code Orange Alert

CBC released drone footage showing the collapsed wooden platform. From the video, it appears two full lengths of a long, raised walkway running along the entire length of one side of the historic fort collapsed to the ground below, in addition to some individual planks.
The hospital delayed same-day surgeries to open up operating rooms, and called a Code Orange alert, stating in a May 31 news release that the hospital “was alerted to a potential mass casualty event at Fort Gibraltar this morning.”

“HSC Children’s received 17 children with varying levels of acuity. Discharges have begun and we anticipate most will go home throughout the day. One adult was also taken to Adult Emergency Department and is in stable condition,” the hospital said.

A total of 28 patients were assessed for injuries, and several of the children were treated for broken bones and other injuries, none severe or life-threatening.

Jason Shaw, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service assistant chief, told reporters outside the hospital that the call came in at 9:55 a.m. local time. “We received a 911 call at Whittier Park for a school group that fell," he said, stating that the children injured were all between the ages of 10 and 11.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service platoon chief Michelle Bessas said at the briefing the children fell from a structure at Whittier Park, where the fort is located, but the reason for the fall was not yet clear. She would not elaborate on what caused the collapse of the structure. “I don't know what led to the fall. When I arrived on scene, there was a number of patients that had fallen from a structure,” she told reporters at the hospital.

The children who were involved, but were not injured, were transported back to school to meet with school officials and their parents, said Bessas.

"Our thoughts go out to all the students, teachers, and families of St. John's Ravenscourt affected by today's terrible accident at Fort Gibraltar," Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said on social media.

The operator of the Fort, Festival du Voyageur, said the site will be closed for an undetermined period of time and that they were cooperating with authorities.