THE mother of a cadet who collapsed in scorching heat during a parade in Exeter has accused organisers of failing in their duty of care.
Around 450 army cadets took part in the banner parade in the city centre on Saturday in temperatures that topped 30 degrees Celsius.
The group gathered outside the civic centre before parading through the city and forming up on Cathedral Green to exchange banners.
But one parent, who asked not to be named, said that cadets were “dropping like flies” as a result of being made to wear full long-sleeved gear and not being offered water during the march.
A spokesman for the army cadet force said that it was not unusual for people to faint on events such as this and said the appropriate treatment and action was taken.
But the mother said: “They were given water at the civic centre but not anymore until they formed up on the parade.
“I flipped my lid as a parent. The organisers were completely negligent. The kids formed up in full sun with no shade or wet berets.
“They were dropping like flies. I had to take my own son, who is just 12, off the parade because he collapsed, having watched instructors give water to adults and VIPs who were in full shade.
“They didn’t even let them have a drink until I made a scene.
“It was 31 degrees on that green and I counted 18 dropping. They were left out for 40 minutes. I took my son out stripped off his kit and gave him a chance of clothes. I had some water with me and chucked it over him.
“As we were leaving a young girl was on a stretcher and looked in a bad way.
“My concern is this was very much a PR exercise. I fully respected that and wanted my son to be part of it.
“All this could have been prevented with simple safety procedures. If they had been on exercise or on a camp things could have been a lot worse. You only have to see what happened in Brecon Beacons over the weekend, where two soldiers died on training exercise due to the heat, to see that.
“To neglect the safety of children in such a way is disgusting.”
A spokesman for the Devon Army Cadet Force said: “In those circumstances it is not unusual for a few to faint. We were expecting it and had staff medically trained and carrying water to deal with it.
“One collapsed next to me but within seconds were attended to. There were very few who had fainted on parade compared to more than 500 taking part.
“Everyone was in the same uniform – in those conditions you are going to get someone who faints but those who did were attended to and given the appropriate treatment right away.
“The decision was made to wear long sleeves due to the density of sun burn.
“I am quite sure that those who wanted water would have had it made available to them. I thought the cadets were remarkable in their resilience to the conditions and extent of the parade. They were in the public eye and it was absolutely commendable showcasing the better quality of youth in the county.
“Precautions were taken and the right treatment was given to those who fainted.
“We do take complaints seriously but cadets were not left lying around. This is relatively minor in respect of everything else that went on.”
Video of the parade below: