Daily Archives: February 7, 2019

SATIB - A guest dies on your watch

Responding correctly to a guest’s death (natural causes) at an establishment: death at a lodge – issued by SATIB

This is a topic and circumstance we all hope we won’t have to discuss and deal with. However, monitoring the many SATIB24 Crisis Calls and claims made over the festive/ high season alone has made us feel it will be worthwhile for our clients to know the correct protocol to follow, should the situation ever arise.

It is not a pleasant scenario when a guest is found dead, but it is a situation that requires immediate action, tact, and most importantly, discretion. Knowing the appropriate steps to take ahead of time can make dealing with this easier and enable the manager/ owner and staff to return to some semblance of normality quicker.

The first port of call in the case of a suspected natural death (e.g. Heart Attack), is to notify the local police and coroner.

Deaths from natural causes, or illness, that occur on the premises are typically easier to handle in that they don’t warrant intensive investigation by civil authorities. However, it is imperative to remember that it is not your responsibility to determine the cause or nature of a guest’s death; leave that to the police and coroner.

Responsibility of the staff

The responsibility in this situation is straightforward. Whether it is a housekeeper, security staff, or manager/ owner who discovers a potentially deceased victim, the first responsibility must always be to check the body to determine that the guest is dead and not asleep, suffering a stroke, heart attack, or has lapsed into a state of unconsciousness. Tap the guest on the shoulder and check for a pulse and listen for breathing. If there are no signs of life, notify the switchboard/ front desk/ manager/ owner using a land-line telephone or cell phone. ONLY use a two-way radio if the land-line or cell phone is not working or more than 2 minutes’ walk from the scene, as news of the death will be broadcast over the communications network.

If no definitive signs of death can be found it must be treated as an EMERGENCY, the employee should start CPR as soon as possible, the First Aid team needs to be activated to assist with resuscitation efforts whilst the police, any security staff and SATIB24 are notified. SATIB24 will activate the required emergency medical services and speak to the first responder to guide them through CPR if appropriate.

If it appears that the guest has been expired for a considerable time and revival is impossible, staff must not remain in the guestroom or area, it must be locked and secured to preserve the area and secure the deceased’s valuables. It is critical that no single employee be left alone in the area where the death occurred. Once Management arrives, the employee who discovered the body should explain how and when they found the body, what steps they undertook to ascertain the guest was no longer alive, anything else they noticed, and what items in the guestroom or general area they touched. Have a manager escort the employee to a secure location and wait with them to gather their composure and await questioning by police. Have a member of staff available to meet responding police and escort them to the location of the guest’s body. No employee/ manager/ owner should re-enter the guestroom or area of the body until the police arrive unless there is an unattended baby or child in the room.

If possible, have staff secure an elevator/ set of stairs/ entrance for exclusive use by police and the coroner. Police and staff should inventory all personal items of the deceased. If the authorities remove the deceased’s property, request a receipt for all items removed. This will protect the establishment from potential theft claims levied by the deceased’s next of kin. If the police or coroner does not remove the guest’s personal property, it is the staff’s responsibility to do so and safeguard it. Do not remove the deceased’s property until the police or coroner approve. Once approval is granted, safeguard the deceased’s property until it can be returned to a person authorized by the next of kin. Items of high value should be placed in a safe or safe deposit box. To avoid incurring any liability, have the property signed for when handing it over.

Once the on-scene investigations are completed, the coroner will either have the body moved to a mortuary or release the body to the family.

For more details click here

Take note: The SATIB24 Crisis call is a service for SATIB clients only, however as a perk of being SATSA members, all companies are able to contact SATIB for a free no-obligation insurance assessment. Should they be interested in this or our services, they are able to take further advantage of the exclusive discounted risk coverage rate, offered to SATSA members only.

Creating a collective private sector

A proper functioning collective private sector is something we have been working towards for over five years. This has certainly not been in place and, in its absence, SATSA has had to, on key issues, assume a solo leadership role.

It has often been a lonely path for SATSA, which has in the past received scant support from the industry’s umbrella body, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

Issues at the TBCSA have now been resolved. SATSA has worked tirelessly to remedy this, together with our some of our fellow board members. We have a new Chairman, Blacky Komani (Deputy COO of Tourvest), who is from the industry and who understands the industry and can thus speak on behalf of the industry with authority. The chairman has put really good processes in place with a clear board strategy. Most importantly, we now also have a new dynamic CEO in the person of Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

As SATSA, one of the fundamental affiliate associations, we are now able to progress member issues through the TBCSA with greater gravitas and authority brought to bear.

That doesn’t mean we can take the foot off the pedal. Rather, that we are part of a far more formidable and effective elective than we have been in the past.

Under the umbrella of the TBCSA we will continue to address the issue of getting bottlenecks resolved such as the requirement for Unabridged Birth Certificates, lengthy and onerous visa processes, vehicle licensing, etc.

This battle has been taken very effectively to the media, with several articles published recently and interviews held on radio:

Sunday Times
PowerFM broadcast
BBQ Online
Tourism Update
Business Day

I am also deeply honoured to have been recently appointed to the South African Tourisn Board. I have huge respect for the team at SA Tourism and the great work they do.

As a board member, I will see to foster closer synergies with the private sector around practical growth initiatives that will amplify and enhance the current organizational strategy.

Also important for our members to note is the exciting opportunity that exists around the Tourism Collaboration Fund which is a joint fund between the TBCSA and SA Tourism. The fund ringfences a portion of the TOMSA levy to fund collective priority growth initiatives from the tourism sector that seek to enhance the country’s competitiveness while concomitantly driving inclusive growth.

SATSA, in conjunction with the TBCSA, will be on a major drive to increase the number of private-sector contributors to the TOMSA levy. If we, as private sector, are not able to increase our levy contribution, there is a real danger that government will impose a legislated tourism levy on all tourism businesses. This means we will have no say on what happens to that levy. The funds collected will simply disappear onto the fiscus with no connection or benefit to tourism.

While our industry remains under pressure, it is really exciting to see that we are getting acknowledgement at the highest levels of the role that tourism can play in resuscitating the economy at a macro level.