If you plan on visiting any two- or more storied shopping malls this holiday season, remember to keep an eye on your young ones when riding or nearby either an escalator or elevator. Sadly, a local mall in Pennsylvania was recently the setting of one young boy’s horrific injury on an escalator.
According to Fox 29, a 7-year-old boy was on an escalator at Oxford Valley Mall, surrounded by various holiday shoppers, when suddenly the boy’s foot became wedged in the bottom of the escalator’s teeth. His mother screamed for assistance so that someone would hit the emergency button; however, it would still take rescue crews nearly 20 minutes to get the boy’s foot out of the escalator’s mechanisms.
A mall spokesman described the incident and said that the escalators were inspected recently and undergo regular maintenance. There have been no issues with this escalator up until this point.
Although the extent of the young boy’s injuries have not been released, many witnesses claim that the boy was in complete shock as the EMS crews rushed him to the hospital. Nearby shoppers attempted to help the young boy, but were unable to do so until the fire department arrived on the scene.
“I just heard some screaming and then everybody started running towards the [escalator]. I could tell something was going on so I went out there myself,” said witness John Olexa, “I’m a retired policeman and I see there was nothing I could do this he was totally stuck in there so security set it up then later on the fire department showed up.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says each year the U.S. reports more than 17,000 injuries from elevator and escalator accidents. Approximately 30 of escalator/elevator-related incidents result in death. Children are the most common victims of these unpredictable tragedies.
Injuries involving elevators and escalators can range from bruises and abrasions all the way to degloving and complete amputations of fingers, toes, hands and feet. One of the most common types of injury is entrapment injury, which typically occurs between the front and rear of adjacent escalator steps, between the side of escalator steps and the escalator skirt (the interior sidewall of the escalator) and injuries occurring at the combplate (the piece with the menacing looking teeth on the floor at the top and bottom of escalators).
In order to better protect individuals riding escalators, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Escalator Committee established a standard for escalators. The CPSC communicated this standard to the public in the mid-1990s, and the ASME/ANSI standard stated that each escalator step should have “painted foot prints” or “brightly colored borders.” Needless to say, if you look on most escalators where you are, the foot prints are not painted.
Escalators and elevators that carry inadequate warnings, are defectively designed, and/or are improperly maintained can and often do cause serious, life-altering injuries to many unsuspecting users. Moving at a relentless 90 feet per minute, escalators hardly slow down when mercilessly amputating a child’s toe or finger, which may scar a child for life. It is generally the responsibility of the property owner where the escalator or elevator is located to ensure that it is safe and operating properly.
However, don’t lose track of what your children are doing when getting on and off an escalator during this year’s holiday frenzy. To avoid any life-threatening accidents from occurring to you or your loved ones, always face the direction the stairs are moving, keep feet far from the sides of the escalator, and always step up and over the escalator’s teeth at the end of the ride.