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Doctor warns: Stop the disco buses ‘before a child chokes on their vomit'

March 5th, 2018 7:05 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Dr Chris Luke who works at the CUH and the Mercy Hospital Emergency departments.

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BUSES to discos in West Cork should be banned, leaving the onus on parents to drop off, and collect, their teenagers.

That’s the opinion of a leading A&E consultant in Cork, who was responding to the drunken chaos which ensued outside a disco in Bandon two weeks ago.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Dr Chris Luke who works at the CUH and the Mercy Hospital Emergency departments, said it’s time for parents to take responsibility for their children.

He was commenting on the fact that a number of gardaí and emergency service ambulances were called to attend the scene outside Bandon Rugby Club, where the popular disco Bounce was taking place at the end of the recent mid-term break.

Three teenagers were taken to CUH by three separate ambulances due to drunkenness, and there were Public Order arrests and another for an alleged assault.

 ‘The only way is to ban the buses for a year as a trial and that way parents will have a duty to bring their sons and daughters to the discos themselves, and then see what happens,’ said Dr Luke.

Dr Luke was keen to emphasise that those working in Bandon Rugby Club are very responsible and experienced and they should not be blamed for busloads of teenagers turning up ‘in a state of coma’ due to drinking spirits like vodka before and during the bus trips to Bandon.

He said teenagers were going to each other’s houses with ‘clinking rucksacks’ full of drink.

‘Only parents can stop the “clinking of rucksacks” and they urgently need to engage and play a preventative role in stopping their teenage sons and daughters from getting very drunk. Someone may not be so lucky the next time when they are on a bus, and could end up choking on their vomit amid all the noise. Then parents would blame the driver of the bus, he warned.

Dr Luke praised the work of Dr Jason van der Velde of West Cork Rapid Response and the local teams who arrived on the scene that night and treated those who were very drunk. Thanks to them, he said, a major incident was thankfully avoided.

Speaking on radio last week, Dr Jason described the scene at one of the rugby club dressing rooms as like ‘an ancient Roman vomitorium,’ and said that two of the teenagers had the potential  to die on the scene that night.

‘Their blood pressures were in the seventies … they were that unconscious and they were unable to manage their own airways safely,’ said Dr Jason. 

He also highlighted the fact that temperatures had dropped significantly that night and that some female teenagers who were outside the club were wearing just string bikini tops and no coats.

‘You’ve got to make sure they’re warm, you’ve got to make sure that they’re properly looked after on their side – so they don’t choke on their own vomit.’

‘We were hammered in the emergency department in CUH that Friday night and the prospect of even more drunk teenagers arriving by ambulances would have been the tipping point, as we wouldn’t have been able to manage,’ added Dr Luke.

He also said that parents can’t be coming into the hospitals blaming the staff there and claiming that their children’s drinks were spiked.
‘We need to stop blaming schools, clubs and pubs and the fact is this is all coming from home. Parents really need to understand that it was very frightening on that Friday night and also it’s an awful burden on the emergency departments – which we don’t need.’ Dr Luke said earlier that parents were coming into the Emergency Departments claiming their children’s drinks were spiked. ‘If that was the case, we would have the worst case of spiking drinks in history,’ he said, adding that the ‘spiking’ of drinks is very uncommon in Ireland.

‘They are being spiked alright – but with more alcohol,’ he said.

Speaking to The Southern Star following the incidents on February 16th, Chief Supt for West Cork, Con Cadogan, agreed that parents had a duty to know what their children were ‘getting up to’.

And he criticised the practice of some clubs having a ‘sick room’ for children who drink too much. ‘That is a crazy situation and we cannot be accepting that, and we shouldn’t be.’

He said gardaí in West Cork would be keeping a close eye on events being run at any venue that ‘had a licence attached to it’ to make sure they were being well run and that any teenage events were well supervised. The gardaí would also be carrying out ‘test purchasing’ of drink in certain retail outfits to ensure young people were not getting access to alcohol over the counter.

‘But really, it has to start at home,’ he said. ‘By the time the problem comes to us, it could be too late.’

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