Gosport MP supports coroner’s verdict in lake tragedy

REMEMBERED Simon Burgess feeds the swans at Walpole Park
REMEMBERED Simon Burgess feeds the swans at Walpole Park

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BETTER training should be given to the emergency services to prevent a repeat of the Walpole Park tragedy, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has said.

She has backed a coroner’s calls for more effective training to be given to firefighters, police officers and ambulance crews.

It comes after the death of 41-year-old Simon Burgess in the Gosport lake in March last year.

As reported in The News yesterday, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said the delay in getting Mr Burgess out of the water was not a significant factor in his death but he may have had a ‘very slim chance’ if he was removed sooner.

Mr Horsley announced his intention to file a report with all three emergency services involved, recommending they improve their training.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘You have to applaud the coroner for making suggestions about how the emergency services can change the way they do things and stop anything like this happening again.

‘They need to work together to make sure their staff are better trained.

‘Incidents that involve water are rare but they need to make sure staff are trained to deal with it.

‘They need to be trained to understand if there is any chance someone is alive they don’t hesitate and they get in there and rescue them.’

According to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Walpole Park incident was the first of its kind the firefighters ever had to deal with.

An inquest heard fire crews believed Mr Burgess was dead when they arrived and so waited for a specialist unit to retrieve him.

Ms Dinenage added: ‘I feel very sorry for the family of Simon because it was a tragic accident.

‘I met him a couple of times and he was a lovely person.’