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