Thursday, July 14, 2005

More on the Tower of Terror

The Sentinel again gives more details:

The girl had blood on her brain and has had emergency surgery. She still is in critical condition.

It's looking more and more like this girl sadly falls into the "pre-existing condition" category. The ride has passed inspections and no issues have been found with it. There apparently was a technical glitch reported by the Sheriff's report, but it was the horizontal portion of the ride that had a slight problem, not the drops. Apparently she had been experiencing leg cramps and headaches leading up to the day at the park, but no other medical complaints. She rode the ride several times during their stay at the parks with no incident.

This (along with the Mission:Space death) raises scary prospects for Disney. What should they do to see these coming? The boy in the previous incident looked perfectly healthy. After that catastrophe, there was a call for age-screening as well as height-screening. Obviously that wouldn't help here. This girl was 16-years old and in good physical condition. So, that begs the question... assuming this was pre-existing, what can Disney do to prevent this? I think the answer is... nothing. How could they have foreseen this?

Sadly, I have experienced this type of event in my time working in the park. While working in the MK, a 60ish year old guest had a heart attack in a 20K sub. We had to get him out, and then trained cast resusitated him. He was transprted to the hospital and later died. Obviously, the 20K ride held no thrill, so this type of event is not restricted to the thrill rides (the Pirates incident also proves this). That didn't make it easier for the family or the cast involved. Even though you know that there is nothing you could have done differently to prevent it and you did nothing to cause it, you still feel in some way guilty. I feel for the families involved in these incidents, but I also feel for the cast that are entwined... When you're making just over minimum wage, you don't ever think that you'll have to deal with this type of situation.

The good news for Disney is that in the 50 years they have been operating theme parks, now all over the world, their injury/mortality rate caused by their rides and attractions are very minimal. This doesn't ease the pain for those involved in these incidents, but the safety record at these parks is outstanding. Of course, as more and more thrill rides go online replacing family attractions, these numbers may change. Let's hope not...

Link to the 911 call transcript...

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