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A not-so-gentle reminder of how quickly things can slip from our grasp


An innocent afternoon at the water park ended in something much more serious, and thought provoking, for Rebecca Levingston

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Usually, when you see someone taken away in an ambulance, you don’t find out what happens to them. This week I found out.

To explain, I need to take you to a six year old’s birthday party.

The party was at our local splash pad. You know those water parks that have popped up all over Queensland. From Cairns to Winton to Brisbane, you can find fountains and a giant bucket that fills up to tip gallons of water over ecstatic children. Soaking good fun.

That’s where I was headed with my youngest son last weekend. We were loaded up with presents, towels, hats, sunscreen and much exuberance as we walked towards the park.

As we approached the path leading down to the aqua park, I noticed a woman sitting on the side of a shallow water drain. She was sobbing. Another woman held up her hands to say “stop”.

“It’s slippery,” she called out. “Don’t step there.”

I looked down into the storm drain that followed parallel to the footpath and is commonly crossed by people walking into the park. Recent rain left a thin layer of water that had quickly grown algae.

“It’s like ice,” another man called out to me.

Several people had fallen over that morning, including the crying woman I could see. She had a big wet patch on her hip and was really shaken up. I got a shiver of pain thinking how close her head must’ve come to hitting the concrete edge.

I stuck to the footpath and asked if anyone had called council. Yes, someone was onto it.

My son and I wandered further in and went to the party. Squeals of delight on the splash pad ensued along with a busted piñata and a unicorn cake. Happy day for most. We did discover that one little boy at the party had also fallen over on the slippery concrete on the way in. His mum ended up on her bum too.

Council came and put out some orange traffic cones along the drain. People kept slipping.

I put up a note on the local community Facebook page. It was a hot day and hundreds of people would be seeking cool relief that morning. My post alerting people to be careful prompted a mixed response. Some people said thanks for the heads up, other argued over whether it was moss or algae, someone else was exasperated that people don’t know how to stick to the footpath. In my view, it was totally reasonable for people to step across the shallow drain in an open park setting.

A few hours later when we were leaving, an ambulance arrived. Another person had fallen. She’d hit her head. Worried families looked on as the paramedics drove off. I felt sick. One of those moments, where you think, that could’ve been me. I hoped that the patient was ok, but figured I’d never know.

A few days later, a post popped up from a woman in the local community forum. It read:

“On Saturday morning I slipped over on the algae covering the concrete entering the aqua park. I don’t remember much of what happened but I believe there are some wonderful people I need to thank for taking great care of me until the ambulance arrived. I fractured the base of my skull and have some bruising on the front of my brain… but I am doing ok.”

Again, a wash of adrenalin went through me as I read her post. A simple trip to the park and a life-changing slip. Her gratitude was gracious.

I called council again. They are following up. Quickly I hope.

But it got me thinking about the roles we play in life when someone slips. Which person are you? The fixer, the fault-finder, the fearful or the friend. Whichever you are, be kind.

And I hope you keep cool this Summer.

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