LETTER: A sad tale of footpath neglect

EDITOR: On May 2 this year my daughter fell on the footpath outside Percy's Newsagency, an ambulance was called and whilst waiting for it to arrive, a young lady, new to Cooma held my daughter's leg in one position for approximately 20 minutes, the people from Percy's were most helpful and supplied their jackets to keep her warm.

She was taken to Cooma Hospital by ambulance and some eight hours later, after x-rays etc were done and everything to make her as comfortable as possible was done for her, she was admitted, as she had broken her kneecap in four places and also shattered the bones and she needed surgery in The Canberra Hospital.

She was transferred to Canberra, by ambulance on May 5 and was operated on in the afternoon of May 7.

I mentioned the young lady who had held her leg, as the day after my daughter fell, the young lady presented at the Cooma Hospital and was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder, brought on by the angle that she held my daughter's leg for such a long time.

My daughter was sent home from Canberra Hospital on the evening of May 9 and as she was going straight home, was not eligible for an ambulance, so she arranged for her brother to bring her home, then she arranged for her daughter and granddaughter to move in with her, as she was unable to move around much at all.

Her daughter stayed with her for nine days.

She was unable to go to work for the first five weeks, then was allowed to return for three hours a day for two weeks and then four hours a day for the next two weeks, and as she had no personal leave owing to her, was unable to access wages and eventually her workplace arranged for her to use her long service leave in order to be paid.

My daughter is back at work now and as of last week is able to now drive her car, thus giving her back her independence, for which she is very grateful.

The brace was removed from her leg on July 30, however the fear of falling is still with her and she is reluctant to go down the street, but of course life does go on and needs must, so it is not just the pain and suffering that affects the person, but also the apprehension and fear that is experienced.

The pain and suffering has been horrendous and even now, 13 weeks later, she is still experiencing pain, but she is very strong and is working hard at her exercises and using the hydrotherapy pool at the Cooma Hospital, which although painful afterwards, she feels that she is getting stronger.

We went to the council to ask if they would think about fixing our deplorable footpaths and took the x-rays etc with us, plus people had come forward who had seen her fall, however the council was not able to do anything about it.

My daughter was not asking for money, but merely for some assurance that something would be done, as she feels very strongly about elderly people falling and perhaps dying from pneumonia or other side effects that may be brought on by a broken hip.

Apparently the High Court has made a ruling for all councils that they are not responsible for these accidents, as people were suing them and they didn't have the money to pay out the claims.

Having said that, I was shocked to see in the paper (July 31 2012) that a mere $10,000 per year has been set aside for the upgrade of CBD footpaths over the next four years.

Clearly with the current state of the footpaths, this paltry amount of money will not be sufficient to make a good job of it, just ongoing 'patch-up work'.

It is unbelievable to try and comprehend the thinking behind this, you would think that it would be a priority to fix the footpaths, tidy the CBD up, alleviate the sight of the yellow paint, some of which now has a strip of red, which I can only suppose is to give extra emphasis to the fact that you are likely to fall, and make the town look good.

All this talk of banners and signage will not take away the ugliness of our footpaths.

I feel very strongly about this matter and am going to start a petition to see if in this year of council elections anyone could be swayed into doing something about this dilemma that we are having in our town.

I might add that even after having made two phone calls to the council to see if they are going to do anything, no one has asked how my daughter is, or whether she is back at work or anything at all.

I guess they feel that if they seem concerned in any way, then it could be construed that they could be liable.

All my daughter ever wanted was for the footpaths to be fixed.

Please watch out for the petitions in various shops that may be willing to display them.

Ruth Blattman

Ratepayer and citizen of Cooma

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