PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles mother has started an online petition after another’s toddler was pricked by an empty syringe at the Dream Playground in Port Angeles over the weekend.
Jessica Guthrie started the petition Monday morning to replace the wood chips at the playground with rubber matting and by 5 p.m. it had garnered close to 200 electronic signatures.
“It was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen,” said Guthrie, a mother of three who said she in the past has found needles underneath the structures in the playground and in the bathrooms nearby.
On Saturday, a 3-year-old child was poked by a discarded syringe between the playground and the nearby parking lot, said Corp. Clay Rife of the Port Angeles Police Department.
“This incident is both unfortunate and unacceptable,” Rife wrote in a post on PAPD’s Facebook page. “Accidental pokes like these can potentially expose the victim to any number of blood borne pathogens and requires immediate medical attention.”
Rife said the child went to Olympic Medical Center following the incident. He said officers will continue to make safety sweeps of city playgrounds, parks and on school grounds during the early morning hours whenever possible.
Guthrie said that though the incident didn’t happen in the area of the playground covered in wood chips, replacing the wood chips with rubber matting would make the park safer.
“Remove the wood chips that can hide objects such as syringes and give parents and children the peace of mind that they can play without worry,” she wrote in her petition.
Efforts to reach Port Angeles Parks Director Cory Delikat were unsuccessful Monday.
Rife said there is no active investigation into how the syringe got there. He said police checked the active cameras in the area and there was not a camera showing where the incident happened.
“I think all parents should at all times have their kids’ safety in mind and take a quick look around,” he said. “If something does look suspicious, they can always give us a call.”
He said this is the first incident locally he was aware of involving a child being pricked by a needle, but people report finding syringes “often.”
“It’s not just in the parks, it’s anywhere in town we get reports of people finding syringes,” he said.
He suggested parents talk to their kids about the hazards they could find while they are out playing.
He said that if a syringe is found in a city park or playground people can call PAPD. Officers have sharps containers in each of their patrol vehicles, he said.
If a child is poked by a needle, Rife said it’s important to stay calm. He said to allow the wound to bleed freely, wash it with soap and water and then lightly cover it.
After initial first aid, go directly to the emergency room, he said.
Guthrie said parents should make their older kids aware of what needles look like and what to look out for.
“My kids know the orange cap means the needle part could be laying close by,” she said. “It’s a constant worry of parents and I quite frankly have had enough.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.