Uneven tile causes student’s rolled ankle

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Students should contact facilities if something looks dangerous, superintendent advises.

By Adriana Ruiz

Alamo Colleges Officer Michael Castillo helps accounting freshman Robert Cottrell into a wheelchair after he tripped and rolled his ankle on uneven tiles on the balcony between Loftin and Gonzales at about 10:40 a.m today. Cottrell chose not to call EMS. To report any hazards, contact facilities at 210-486-1236.  Photo by E. David Guel

Alamo Colleges Officer Michael Castillo helps accounting freshman Robert Cottrell into a wheelchair after he tripped and rolled his ankle on uneven tiles on the balcony between Loftin and Gonzales at about 10:40 a.m today. Cottrell chose not to call EMS. To report any hazards, contact facilities at 210-486-1236. Photo by E. David Guel

Uneven tiles on the balcony between Loftin Student Center and Gonzales Hall caused accounting freshman Robert Cottrell to trip on his way to class Wednesday.

Cottrell said he took the outside stairs to the balcony, not his usual route, trying to save time on his way to ENGL 1301, Composition 1, in Gonzales.

“I was coming from Moody (Learning) Center and decided to go up the stairs,” Cottrell said. “It felt like I could save a few minutes.”

Cottrell said he was walking toward Gonzales when he tripped on uneven tiles, which caused him to fall and roll his left ankle.

He said two other men helped him up to a bench and then notified writing center Coordinator Frank Kavanaugh. The center is on the second floor of Gonzales.

Kavanaugh said he went outside and saw the student on the ground, then called campus police. He said he has never witnessed anyone tripping on the concrete tiles but has tripped on them himself.

“It is easy to trip if you are not paying attention,” Kavanaugh said.

One of the good Samaritans notified English Chair Mike Burton.

Burton said when a student is injured, the proper procedure is to call campus police unless the student needs immediate medical attention. In that case, EMS will be called. This college’s health center closed two years ago.

“We don’t have first aid anymore,” Burton said. “We complained very loudly when it was removed.”

Alamo Colleges Police Officer Michael Castillo arrived to help Cottrell.

Castillo said when such incidents happen, an officer does a preliminary check and asks the victim if EMS is needed. If a student agrees, the student is responsible for the $800 charge.

Castillo said if an officer decides to call EMS on behalf of the student because of a severe injury, the student is not responsible for the charges.

Castillo informed Cottrell of his options.

Cottrell said he decided not to call EMS because he did not think his injury was severe.

“I didn’t want to waste emergency services,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell was transported by wheelchair to Lot 21 where his mother picked him up.

Castillo informed Cottrell’s mother that she could file a report with the college and have the medical bills covered because the injury was caused by a hazardous bump.

Cottrell said he will seek medical attention because he cannot put any pressure on his ankle. He said he hopes the tiles will get fixed soon.

“I feel like it should be fixed. It caught me off guard,” Cottrell said. “I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. It could have been worse.”

Castillo said he notified facilities superintendent David Ortega about the incident and the uneven pavement, saying the first step is to get the area blocked off with cones.

Ortega said the broken tiles were likely caused by expansion because of the dry weather. He said this was the first time he has been informed about the tiles.

Ortega said he will check to see if his department has the same tile to replace the old ones, although it is unlikely because the tile was last replaced in 1996.

Ortega said students should call facilities if they see anything around campus that looks dangerous.

“Students are our eyes and ears. If they see something they should call, especially if it is a safety issue. It is our highest priority,” Ortega said.

To contact facilities, call 210-486-1236.

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