By ERWIN CHLANDA
There are no plans to stop the the Red Centre Nats which ended yesterday with 14 people, all adults, being injured, four of them seriously, when flames from a car on the burnout pad shot though the mesh fence into the spectator area.
Medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Sam Goodwin, said the four people flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital “are in a serious condition”.
Answering questions during a media doorstop in Alice Springs this morning with Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Dr Goodwin (at left) was asked whether the injuries are life threatening.
“I wouldn’t like to comment,” he said.
Mr Gunner called the incident “serious”.
But when asked by a journalist whether the government would continue to “spend a lot of money” on the event, between $1.2m and $1.3m, according to Major Events chief Andrew Hopper, Mr Gunner said there will be a review.
But he added that the first thing those injured, and their families and friend, had said to him was, “Please let us not be the reason this event gets canceled. We love this event.”
Said Mr Gunner: “We will be doing everything we can to make sure we learn from what occurred, and that next year’s event is conducted as safely as possible. We have no plans to cancel the event.”
Is it a good investment for the taxpayer? Mr Gunner (at right) was asked.
“It’s not something I’ve thought about today,” he said.
Work Safe will lead the investigation and will be working with police.
“The event was conducted according to a process and the question obviously is, it that process adequate,” said Mr Gunner.
Asked by the Alice Springs News Online how many people the event brings to Alice Springs, Mr Gunner consulted with Mr Hopper who said 14,000 people had gone “through the gate”.
We pointed out to Mr Gunner that 14,000 entries through the gate does not equate with 14,000 people as any individual can go through the gate multiple times.
Mr Gunner replied: “We can work with you about those details, of you like, about the exact numbers of attendance. It does draw people from around the country.”
Does the program encourage people to do burnouts in a public place? Mr Gunner was asked.
He said it’s safer to take people with a love for their cars to a place like the drag track, “to a place which is safe. You remove that safe option, the capacity for people to do burnouts in a controlled environment, you create an environment for greater risk of harm.”
Mr Gunner says compensation for victims has not been considered so far. “We are helping them with flights and transportation of cars.”
Andrew Everingham, from St John Ambulance, said the number of patients needing care put the accident into the category of a mass casualty incident, but the service had no difficulty coping.
Mr Hopper was asked why people were allowed so close to the action. He said: “That’s the design of the burn-out [area] which has been there for quite some time.”
When asked about flames being able to go thought cyclone fencing he said: “That’s the part that needs to be investigated.”
UPDATE September 9:
All four patients who were transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital are now in a stable condition, according to the Senior Media Adviser of South Australian Health.
By ERWIN CHLANDA