Thursday 11th August, 2005


July blast victim: Bins scare me

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Nicole Cassie’s father fixes her nightgown during a hospital visit on July 15, three days after the Frederick Street blast in which she was injured.
Photo: Brian Ng Fatt

By Jessica Pouchet

Blast victim Nicole Cassie still cannot feel her fingers, exactly a month after the Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, explosion.

She needs assistance cooking, cleaning and changing.

Her left leg, still supported with a bandage, swells if she stands for too long or if her legs are down while sitting.

Although thankful for the small help her two children, aged eight and 12, can offer, Cassie is eager to regain her independence—physically and financially.

The day of the blast, July 11, also marked her first day at work as a data entry operator at the Ministry of Education.

Without her left hand, she cannot work.

Cassie said she filled out the appropriate forms to get paid leave, but had yet to see a paycheque and did not know the period for which she was entitled to paid leave.

She went to the clinic on Monday, when her doctor said she might need a second surgery.

During her ten-day stay at hospital following the blast, Cassie underwent surgery on her left hand, in which a piece of metal was lodged.

“You don’t know how devastated I was,” she said about hearing she might need another operation.

“I was hoping to start work in October.”

Cassie is awaiting money from her mother or sister to purchase her children’s school uniforms.

Doctors told her she cannot start physical therapy yet because the bones in her hand are not fully healed.

In the meantime, Cassie was given prescriptions the last four times she visited the clinic since she was released from hospital on July 21.

Each time she has paid for the medication herself.

Cassie said she had received no word from the Ministry of Health about possible assistance or compensation.

She said her last contact with the Government concerning her medical condition after the blast was on July 12 when the ministers of National Security and Education visited her at Port-of-Spain General Hospital.

On Tuesday, Health Minister John Rahael said the ministry would assist all blast victims with their medical expenses, but was not assisting or even following up on patients to find out if they need assistance besides Yvonne McIvor, whose leg was amputated.

The ministry funded her stay at Seventh-day Adventist Hospital in Cocorite, a motorised wheelchair, surgical bed, home assistant and potentially, a prosthestic leg.

McIvor was discharged on Tuesday and returned to her home which, her son Oster said, was a “much more comfortable environment.”

Rahael added that victims seeking help would need to contact the ministry on their own. He said they should call his direct line, 623-2741.

Cassie was aware of the assistance the ministry had given McIvor, but had been waiting to hear from the Government for help.

“I need some help. Just for the kids.”

Cassie said she would attempt to contact Rahael, but would pass on his statement to her lawyer.

Meanwhile, Cassie is still scared to go near the first explosion site.

“I don’t walk on Frederick Street. When I walk and I see a bin you won’t believe how frightened I get.”

In response to yesterday’s blast, Cassie said, “I had a feeling it would have happened again.”

McIvor’s son Oster was not pleased with the news.

“Once the Government has not made any headway at all with investigations it means the responsible group, or person, he or she, is still walking the streets free,” he said.





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