News for June, 2006
Almost a year after the James Ratcliffe accident, the Quebec Workers' Health and Safety Commission published their report. Its main conclusion is that there was a lack of safety procedures, guidelines and practices in place with regard to the inflatable boat. In addition, a lack of safety features on the boat itself contributed to the accident.
The immediate cause of the accident was a sharp right turn initiated by the instructor to simulate an emergency maneuvre. James Ratcliffe was sitting on the side of the inflatable boat but had no seat and no way of holding on. As a result, he was ejected from the boat which slid over him, injuring him with the propeller.
The Commission was critical of the way the training was organized, without safety guidelines and without adequate training in boat and marine basics. It also highlighted the lack of seats and of hand-holds on the boat. Even previous to the release of the report, the Hudson fire department had come to its own conclusions and had remedied many of the problems with the boat. The town will review its own handling of safety with regard to its employees and firemen.
Mayor Shaar was the original initiator of the Pine Lake trout stocking plan but it has proved so popular that subsequent municipal administrations have kept it up. Again this year, the trout have just been released and again it is expected that the lake will be fished out by the end of the summer.
The Hudson High annual Europe trip was under unwelcome scrutiny as various schools discussed their teens behaviour on such trips. The drinking age in Europe tends to be much lower than in North America and, although school boards have "no drinking" of alcohol policies, in practice the application of the policies on such school trips is left to the individual schools.
The first school to institute a review was Beaconsfield High after parents were given CD's with pictures taken on the school's Europe trip. A few pictures showed students drinking martinis and staff chugging kegs of beer. Parents were split on whether an alcohol ban should be imposed on such trips with the majority in favour of keeping the status quo.
Similar questions were asked about the Hudson High trips and apparently some of the teens did overindulge. At Hudson High, parents were given the choice to sign a permission slip for their teens to drink or not and that fact seemed to diffuse the situation - most parents had in fact given permission and most were very pleased with how the trips were run. At all schools, most parents were in favour of giving their children the responsibility to drink moderately when appropriate and these same parents hoped that the school boards and schools would not over-react and impose some kind of ban.
At St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Father Roland Demers is marking 40 years in the priesthood, twenty of them in Hudson. While churches and the Catholic faith may be in trouble elsewhere, St. Thomas is often full of parishioners come to hear Father Demers preaching relevance and seeming to address each parishioner personally. According to parishioners, it is his leadership which makes the church ameeting place for English and French, adults and young people and which makes everyone feel welcome. On June 11, 2006, they celebrated Father Demers as the spirit of their Hudson Church.
While ripples are spreading out from the publication of the report on James Ratcliffe's death, some residents are using the report to point the finger at the Town of Hudson for not looking after the safety of the firemen as the employer whose responsibility includes making sure all work is carried out safely. In the wake of the report's publication, it was found that, contrary to many other towns and many larger employers in Quebec, the town did not have a Health and Safety Committee. According to Mayor Corker, the town is now looking into how best to establish such a committee.