Disabled woman left on dirty floor after fall in Horsham public toilet

Sonja Chamings, who fell inside a disabled toilet in Horsham town centre. Photo by Steve Robards   SR1527770 SUS-150912-120935001

Sonja Chamings, who fell inside a disabled toilet in Horsham town centre. Photo by Steve Robards SR1527770 SUS-150912-120935001

  • Sonja Chamings fell in a Horsham town centre public toilet
  • She was left lying on the dirty floor for 20 minutes
  • Council say alarm system not linked to emergency services
4
Have your say

A disabled pensioner who slipped and fell in a Horsham town centre toilet was left lying on the cold, wet floor for 20 minutes.

No help arrived for Sonja Chamings after she pulled the red emergency cord when she fell in the disabled toilet in Piries Place Car Park on Monday November 30.

Toilets at Piries Place Horsham. Pic Steve Robards SR1527484 SUS-150712-161457001

Toilets at Piries Place Horsham. Pic Steve Robards SR1527484 SUS-150712-161457001

Ms Chamings, 68, explained that she managed to pull herself to the toilet door and open it, and was later helped up by a passing Good Samaritan.

But she added the incident could have been ‘tragic’ had it happened to someone less capable than her.

She said: “I opened the door and the floor was filthy, it was so wet.

“But now I was there I wanted to go more than ever, so I told myself not to be stupid and got on with it.”

Ms Chamings, who lives in Horsham, suffers from polio and is no longer able to walk. Though she is still able to drive, she uses a mobility scooter.

She parked the scooter in the room, but slipped as she got up off the toilet.

She said: “I stepped in some water and went flying, and my left foot got stuck under my scooter.

“I managed to get it out but I couldn’t get up, once I have fallen down I’m hopeless.”

She managed to pull the emergency cord but nobody came to help.

She said: “I sat there for 20 minutes and nobody came. I was so cold on the floor and so wet where the water was seeping through my clothes.

“I managed to get over to the door and pulled the handle down to open it.”

She alerted some women who comforted her, but they were unable to lift her off the floor.

Eventually, a man picked her up and put her back on her scooter - but there had still been no response from the alarm.

She said: “I thanked him profusely but off he went, I didn’t know his name.

“I sat around there on my scooter and still that alarm was going and nobody came.

“I had to sit in the car and compose myself. As I drove out, the alarm was still going and that was over an hour later.”

She added: “I phoned the council and nobody knows who is responsible for those disabled loos.

“What if it had been somebody not quite so capable? It could have been tragic.”

A spokesperson for Horsham District Council explained that the emergency cord system is not linked to any emergency service.

Instead it relies on passers by stopping to investigate the cause of the alarm.

The spokesperson said: “We were very concerned to hear of this incident.

“All disabled toilets are required to have an alarm system for distress calls, however these are usually, as is the case at Piries Place, a simple system that alerts passers by to the fact that someone is in distress; this is the legal requirement.

“The value of the system relies on a ‘Good Samaritan’ philosophy whereby passers by respond and provide help.

“We are grateful on this occasion to the member of the public who came to the aid of this particular user.

“Going forward, we are going to install signs to say that the alarm is not monitored so that future users are aware.”

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make our website your homepage at www.wscountytimes.co.uk

2 Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wscountytimes

3 Follow us on Twitter @wscountytimes

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

The County Times – always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.