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Cape town - Shopping centre safety has come under the spotlight after a man collapsed and died in Cavendish Square.
The man, a security guard, collapsed near the Nu Pharmacy entrance in the centre on November 29.
A witness, Suzanne Du Plessis, and her husband saw the guard collapse and tried to assist with first-aid treatment.
It is believed the security guard, Max Ntantiso, had worked at Stuttafords for four years and had been on his way to a bus with his colleague when he collapsed.
Du Plessis said she was appalled that there were no oxygen tanks in the mall to help the man breathe.
“Obviously the problem here is, how safe are our malls. Should something happen to us, are they properly equipped to ensure basic first-aid is afforded to patrons?” Du Plessis asked.
“One should have a portable tank of medical oxygen with a bag valve mask as most times the person convulses and starts to vomit, which Max did.”
Du Plessis said she had tried to find gloves and a plastic resuscitation valve.
“In case of Aids or TB as there was slight blood in the mucous, they said they did not have one, and only brought it out when Max was already in cardiac arrest.”
She said the centre’s security personnel had assisted by bringing a wheelchair and a stretcher.
“But one could not move him because it was too late,” she said.
“When asked for the medical oxygen they eventually brought a BA set (compressed air) which is inappropriate,” she added.
Du Plessis said they had managed to get some medical oxygen from Dis-chem Pharmacy and a young student who had recently qualified as a doctor, arrived and helped.
They were unable to administer a drip until help arrived. By the time the ambulance arrived Ntantiso had died.
“When we covered him with a blanket people broke out in song which I am sure carried his soul in comfort that he did not die alone,” she said.
Cavendish Square’s Brenda Bibby confirmed that efforts by medical, paramedical and security personnel to resuscitate Ntantiso had been unsuccessful.
She said Cavendish Square conformed to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, by regularly conducting assessments of the risk and type of emergencies that could happen on site.
Bibby said the centre had equipment and trained personnel on site to deal with such incidents and had emergency response paramedic teams on call.
She added that apart from on-site first-aiders, there were first-aid boxes and a first-aid room.
“The equipment at Cavendish Square does indeed include a portable oxygen supply,” she said.
Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services’ Theo Layne said from a health and safety perspective, only basic first-aid was required at shopping centres. There was no legislation that required shopping centres to have mobile oxygen tanks or masks.
Dr Cleeve Robertson, a senior manager at the Western Cape’s Emergency Medical Services, said the agency responsible for a large shopping mall, factory or business should ensure the following:
* An emergency number is clearly displayed to in order to contact an EMS and Rescue Service.
* An emergency medical response is provided for Basic Life Support Care with the facility to use an Automatic External Defibrillator, which automatically diagnoses life-threatening heart diseases.
* Basic emergency medical equipment is available.