Shortcomings found in Bugis hotel pool where woman drowned
Hotel needs to revise emergency action plan and train staff in first aid: Coroner
Less than a day after arriving on her first visit to Singapore, a woman from China drowned minutes after going into a hotel swimming pool.
On Aug 28 last year, Madam He Ying, 29, stepped into the swimming pool on the fifth level of the Hotel Grand Pacific in Bugis at 8.45pm.
Her colleague later saw her struggling in the water and raised the alarm. As the hotel did not have a lifeguard, a security guard used a metal hook to get Madam He out of the pool.
She was taken to Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where she was pronounced dead at about 10.20pm.
On Tuesday last week, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam found no basis to suspect foul play and ruled Madam He's death as an "unfortunate misadventure".
The coroner also noted that hotel staff who initially responded to the incident did not know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and were unclear if Madam He was conscious after she was rescued.
Paramedics also took about 15 minutes to evacuate her from the pool area to a waiting ambulance as they encountered difficulties due to the hotel's layout.
Coroner Kamala said the hotel staff ought to be trained in first aid, and its emergency action plans needed to be revised.
"The provision of adequate lighting at the swimming pool, depth markers and transition markers must be addressed urgently," she added.
She also recommended the hotel review its provision of on-site life-saving equipment.
The inquiry found that the nearest automated external defibrillator was at the front desk.
According to court documents, Madam He, who was here on a work trip, entered the pool with her colleague, Madam Zhan Xiangfei, who said she was unaware of its depth.
At the time, a notice near the pool, which was open till 9pm, stated the rules and warned that there was no lifeguard on duty.
The shallow end is 1m deep and slopes downwards before flattening off at 2m.
During investigations, the police found there was insufficient lighting for the "shallow" and "deep" markers, which have similar colours as the pool.
A site visit found the pool had a gradient of 1:16.7, which is not compliant with the recommended gradient of not more than 1:15.
As Madam He swam towards the deep end, Madam Zhan remained at the shallow end and told Madam He, who was not a seasoned swimmer, to be careful.
When Madam He began to struggle and flail her arms, Madam Zhan tried to help her but found the water too deep and shouted for help.
When Madam He was rescued, Madam Zhan saw a mixture of blood and bubbles at her nose and mouth.
The security guard and a duty manager, who called for an ambulance, both believed Madam He was conscious.
It was only five minutes later, at about 9pm, that a restaurant supervisor and a member of the public performed CPR on Madam He after they could not find a pulse.
Shortly after, paramedics arrived and took over. They assessed that Madam He did not have a heartbeat.
Taking Madam He on a stretcher to the ambulance took longer than expected because there was uncertainty over the evacuation route.
An autopsy found the cause of death to be drowning.
Coroner Kamala said Madam He's husband, Mr Zhang Yang, had asked for a review of the hotel's structural constraints and evacuation processes to prevent similar incidents in future.
His lawyers, Mr Peter Doraisamy and Mr Gerard Quek, told The New Paper yesterday that the family is taking legal advice on seeking compensation.
TNP reached out to Hotel Grand Pacific for comment, but there was no reply by press-time.
According to the coroner's report, four lifebuoys and the metal hook were placed along the wall at a sheltered seating area near the shallow end of the pool at the time of the incident.
The hotel has since moved one of the buoys and the metal hook to a position along the length of the pool and added a fifth buoy near the deep end.