Wednesday February 13 2008
by A. Aisha Caleb-Browne
A 30-year-old man is currently a patient at the Edward’s Ward at the Holberton Hospital where he is nursing what is strongly felt are severe third degree burns to both legs.
Carlton Fitzherald Sancho, originally of Guyana, is an employee at the Antigua Distillery Limited (ADL) where the incident occurred on Monday, shortly after 6 p.m., during his four to 12 work shift. According to preliminary reports, the injured man fell into one of three uncovered tanks which measure between 10 to 12 ft in depth and which are usually kept closed.
It is further reported that the tanks are to be kept closed but at times, they are kept uncovered for convenience.
The Antigua Sun spoke to the patient at the hospital at which time he explained that he had gone to the hot mix area to change the wash – a mixture of molasses, steam and yeast used to make the alcohol – as was mandatory. He said on his way to the area, all three of the tanks that are used used to release waste were open.
Sancho said after checking the tank, the last attendant on shift should ensure that they are resealed.
He said, “I end up in it because right where I have to walk, there are pipes running to the big tanks; and because of the set-up, you have to ‘duck down’ (bend down). I done know that they supposed to be locked, so when I raise up my head now I see one of the pipes, and when I duck down to go forward to continue walking to the tank, I dropped straight in the hole.”
The young man added that it was his quick thinking and his knowledge of the tanks' set-up which allowed him to be able to avert further injury.
“I didn’t panic…so when I was dropping in I opened out my hands quickly and as soon as my hands touch the surface, I use my hand strength and pitch up myself out of there.”
Realising the gravity of the situation, Sancho told the SUN that he immediately started hollering for assistance as, even while he did not feel the burns, he knew that he needed to seek immediate medical attention. Soon after, the shift supervisor responded to his cries for help.
The supervisor then proceeded to remove Sancho’s boots and pants in an effort to impede the spread of the heat and the water which by that time had saturated the fabric.
“He take up the hose one time and spray it on me and then he come to lift me to carry me to the vehicle…when he do that, me skin start coming off in me hand,” Sancho stated.
He was immediately transported to the hospital.
Attempts were made to contact one of the shareholders of the ADL proved futile. Sancho, however, told the SUN that several members of the family owned group have visited him since his hospitalisation and are attempting to come to some agreement as to his way forward in terms of treatment and recovery.