Climbing company had ‘comprehensive’ safety plan
Thu, 09 Aug 2012 8:11a.m.
As search resumes today for a school party missing during a rock-climbing trip, questions are being raised around outdoor education safety regulations in New Zealand.
A group of 11 year 13 students from Spotswood College and two instructors from the Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre (Topec) got into trouble on Paritutu Rock near Back Beach while rock climbing on Wednesday afternoon.
Two 17-year-old boys - one from New Plymouth and one from Brazil - were swept into the seas and an instructor, a New Plymouth man aged in his 40s, jumped into the water to help them.
None of the three resurfaced and they have not been seen since.
Outdoor New Zealand CEO Garth Dawson says Topec are respected within the industry, and would have been following correct safety procedures.
“Topek is a long-established, well-respected tourism operation since 1968,” he says.
“They’ve been safe [and] looked after children for that amount of time and they’ve got a comprehensive safety system as well as procedures for dealing with weather conditions and environmental conditions every time they go out with kids.”
Mr Dawson says despite Topec’s safe record, safety procedures will be reviewed due to the incident.
“We’ll be working with the investigation, because there will be an investigation into the incident whatever the outcome is, and we will give support to the organisation as well as to the investigators to make sure we learn from this experience and that we develop ongoing improvements.
“Our thoughts are with the families, the colleagues and the community of the two children and the instructor that have gone missing. It’s a real tragedy.”
Search for the trio resumed at first light today with police and LandSAR teams scouring the shoreline and two rescue vessels conducting a marine search.
Four inflatable boats were patrolling at the New Plymouth port and pier.
An air force Iroquois helicopter will join the search later in the morning, along with the Police National Dive Squad.
The names of the missing three are expected to be released later today.
Watch the video for Firstline’s interview with Garth Dawson
NZN / 3 News / RadioLIVE
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11/08/2012 8:30:43 a.m.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT wrote:
TOPEC is a wonderful organisation, OPC is a wonderful organisation, Outward Bound is a wonderful organisation, Spirit of Adventure is a wonderful organisation. All of these Outdoor Education centres provide young New Zealanders with the opportunity to experience the outdoors with calculated risk. The events that have occured are purely accidental. It could have happened to anyone.
Do not put blame on TOPEC, I myself with thousands of other Taranaki school children have attended a TOPEC course. There level of safety was incredible. They would look at every possible scenario and take into consideration the skill level of the group.
I myself have done the exact same trip these students were doing. It is all a bit of fun. It is an adventure. However, the weather turned horrible quickly, just like it always does in New Plymouth.
You can try and place blame, but please do NOT ruin TOPEC, it is a place where I gained confidence, strength, practical knowledge, survival techniques, new friendships and gave me an experience of a lifetime. DO NOT let the events of Wednesday make you frightened of these Outdoor Education providers, instead let us build on Wednesday's events and think of the new things that could be taught.
Outdoor Education is so important for such an adventure and sporting based society.
9/08/2012 12:17:39 p.m.
A smart journalist would ask:
Of the ACC; "Has Topec ever received an ACC workplace insurance discount for its "comprehensive safety systems" and, "How much would those discounts amount to in dollar savings for the company since 1968?"
Of DOL; "Since 1968 how often have DOL reviewed or audited Topec's safety systems and how often have DOL Inspectors actually inspected Topec's operations?"
The answers to these questions may start to provide answers as to why these tragedies keep occurring in NZ!
9/08/2012 9:01:33 a.m.
has to stop wrote:
These incidents keep on happening and parents have to sign authorities releasing the school etc from all liability. Parents are increasingly refusing to send their kids on these sorts of trips as the risks are simply too great.
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