SINGAPORE: An investigation into the unexpected death of Pranav Madhaik, a 14-year-old Secondary 2 student-athlete at the Singapore Sports School (SSP), has revealed a significant safety lapse, highlighting a critical oversight by his badminton coach who failed to ensure his well-being prior to leaving the track.
This was revealed in SSP’s press release of its investigation findings, released on Saturday (14 Oct).
Subsequent to the investigation, the coach has been served a notice of dismissal, and the incident has propelled the school into a comprehensive review of its safety and emergency response protocols.
A timeline of tragedy and oversight
SSP has detailed the sequence of events leading up to the tragic passing of Pranav.
- October 5, 2023, 1826hrs: Pranav completed a 400m fitness time trial as part of the routine training at the SSP Badminton academy. Upon completion, he reported feeling unwell to his badminton coach.
- Between 1826hrs and 1835hrs: Pranav was instructed to rest by the side of the starting point as the coach attended to other duties, leaving him unattended. Pranav interacted with two other groups of student-athletes, who did not notice anything unusual with him.
- Approximately 1840hrs: A Track and Field coach found Pranav still resting at the side of the track. Recognizing Pranav’s distress, he initiated help – sending a student-athlete to fetch water and subsequently cold water per Pranav’s request.
- 1845hrs: Observing that Pranav could not stand even with assistance, the Track and Field coach activated the school’s Boarding staff for aid.
- 1850hrs: An ambulance was called.
- 1853hrs: Boarding staff contacted Pranav’s parents.
- 1902hrs: The ambulance arrived and Pranav was transported to the National University Hospital (NUH), arriving there at 1919hrs. He was later admitted and rendered medical care.
- October 11, 2023: Pranav tragically passed away, the cause of death was cited as cardiac arrest with an antecedent cause of congenital malformation of coronary vessels.
The press release detailed, “It was found that the Badminton coach should have checked on Pranav to ensure his well-being before leaving the track. He did not account for all his student-athletes before dismissing them from training, which was not in accordance with the school’s safety protocols.”
While the SSP has taken decisive action against the coach for neglecting to account for Pranav’s wellbeing, and despite adherence to some emergency protocols, the incident raises piercing questions regarding the preparedness and responsiveness of youth sports training institutions to medical emergencies.
Pranav’s parents are navigating through their grief, besieged with unanswered questions, and advocating for more robust safety and emergency medical systems within the institution.
The selection of NUH, situated significantly farther from the school as compared to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and the absence of immediate, on-site medical intervention have become focal points of their concerns.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Prem Singh Madhaik, Pranav’s father, implored, “If we have a proper system in place there itself, we could have prevented this type of issue.”
In response to the incident and ensuing inquiries, SSP has engaged with Pranav’s family and is also undertaking an extensive review of its safety protocols. “The School is also reviewing and strengthening all its safety protocols and emphasised to coaches and staff the importance of adhering to them.”
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