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People land up in hospital after holiday fireworks

Published: 
Sunday, January 7, 2018

The sky was beautified over the Christmas and New Year holidays with fireworks displays, but the inconsiderate use by many landed several people in emergency rooms.

From damaged limbs to anxiety issues being reported, activists are again appealing to the Government to introduce legislation aimed at either banning the use of over-the-counter explosives or to offer licences to users.

The Tobago Regional Health Authority recorded five cases at their emergency departments with injuries related to firecrackers and scratch bombs between December 30, 2017 and January 1. Two men and a woman, ages 23 to 39, were admitted to the surgery ward for wound repair to their fingers and eyes. Two others, a Signal Hill man, 39 and a Mount St George schoolboy, 14, suffered injuries to their chest and hands respectively.

In the South West Regional Health Authority, there were ten cases between December 31, 2017 and January 2. At the San Fernando General Hospital, a patient's fingertip on his right hand was blown off by a firecracker. Another had an object stuck in his hand and a patient's face was burned while bursting bamboo. A patient also went to the Freeport Health Centre with an injury to his ear. Statistics from the North West, North Central and Eastern RHAs were not sent to the Guardian.

Activists Josie Ache, founder of the group Regulating the Use of Fireworks in Trinidad & Tobago said that while the holidays are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, many confine themselves to their homes to watch over young children, the elderly or pets.

"This year alone I had two friends majorly impacted. One friend’s dog ran out of their yard and into the road after being scared by the bang! And one was hit by an oncoming truck and barely lived. Another friend left his windows open on Old Year’s Night and got up the next morning to a spent firework shell lying on his bed! He was very fortunate it was not worse. It again reminds us that though the viewing process is beautiful, it is also very dangerous in the wrong hands," Ache said.

She said the relevant protective agencies continue to pass the buck from one to another with no one willing to take responsibility. She said Government follows suit, " 'bumping their gum' and "throwing empty promises to the wind" despite the many petitions and articles circulating.

AG: It's on Govt's legislative agenda for 2018

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said that while Government plans to deal with explosives in its legislative agenda this year, there are laws that currently guide the use of explosives such as fireworks and scratch bombs.

He said the matter has to be discussed at the Cabinet level first and amendments will be done after proper research and consultations with fireworks businesses, the police, fire service, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of the Attorney General and NGOs. The key right now, he said, is to identify the offenders.

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