Tragic safety motivationOn Thursday, two mothers of elementary school children fell from an aerial ladder during a fire drill at school and died while their children were watching. The news is even more shocking because the drill was organized and held by a fire station under the National Emergency Management Agency, the body that copes with disasters and safety measures.
It has been learned that the cause was that the fire station did not maintain the fire vehicle as required, and did not abide by safety guidelines during the drill. This is a typical man-made disaster, a result of widespread insensitivity about safety in our society. These types of accidents have occurred many times. We need to end this.
The wire that connects the ladder and the rescue basket, the space for passengers, had not been replaced since 1998 when the fire station bought the fire engine. A fire station must check rescue baskets and wires every day. But the fire station did not check them on that day. There were no safety belts inside the basket and no safety net was installed under the ladder, which should be set up in case people fall. Children rode the basket and went up to a height of more than 24 meters. When three mothers rode the basket and went up, the wire broke and the basket turned upside down.
Our society is too insensitive about safety. As a result, small accidents that could have ended without major damage or casualties turn into big disasters. Months ago, 10 or so foreigners died from a fire in a detention facility in Yeosu, and that was also a man-made disaster. Safety checks are not done properly in amusement parks, so big accidents occur from time to time. Each time, people make a fuss and say they will prevent such accidents from happening again. But after a while, things just repeat.
From this fire drill accident, our safety sensitivity must be strengthened. That is not only about the government but also the private sector. According to the Korea Consumer Agency, last year the number of children’s safety accidents totaled 4,541 cases, nearly double the number from three years ago. Among the accidents, 61 percent occurred at home. But only 15 percent of families gave safety instructions to their children. We invest too little in safety. We tend to believe that things will be all right. We should stop our habitual act of fixing problems only after accidents occur. Small problems that can be easily fixed usually turn into major problems that are hard to fix.
We must stop that now.