The Hidden Dangers of Swimming Pool Entrapment

August-18-14 by Laura Hillyer

Most parents are familiar with the usual dangers associated with swimming. However, little is known of the potentially very serious hazards associated with "swimming pool entrapment".

Swimming pool photo

Children are particularly vulnerable to entrapment which occurs when swimmers become trapped at or against a pool or spa drain, due to pump suction. Hair, body parts, bathing suits and jewellery can lead to entrapment and the resulting injuries include death by drowning, evisceration and disembowelment.

In the United States, safety initiatives have been codified in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was enacted following the tragic death of Virginia Graeme Baker in June 2002. Virginia was a 7 year old girl who became trapped due to suction from a spa drain. The drain's suction held her under the water and, despite the considerable efforts of adults who tried to rescue her, she drowned.

Another tragic case involves a 6 year old girl named Abigail Taylor who was in a wading pool when she accidentally encountered an uncovered drain. The drain's suction led to Abigail losing much of her intestinal tract. She underwent bowel, liver and pancreas transplants but succumbed to her injuries nine months later.

There are numerous other reported cases in the United States, which recognizes and tracks injuries through the category of pool entrapment. However, similar injuries do not appear to be tracked by category in Canada so the full extent of the problem may be unknown.

In the United States, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act recognizes the danger posed by inadequate systems and requires that all public pools and spas are equipped with drain covers compliant with the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 2007 standard.

Canadian standards also exist, such as those recognized by the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada and the Ontario Government as it relates to public recreational water facilities .

However, safety initiatives to increase awareness of the dangers of pool entrapment need to be undertaken by safety organizations, spa and pool service providers and Governments, given that many older residential and public pools and spas may have systems that contain entrapment hazards.

There also needs to be greater awareness of this issue so that parents and their children are protected. Preventative steps include:

  1. Inspecting pool drains and systems to ensure they are modernized and safe and that older, dangerous models are replaced;
  2. Educating all swimmers, including children, to stay away from pool and spa drains, pipes and other protrusions and openings; and
  3. Educating all swimmers to tie their hair back and remove loose clothing and jewellery before swimming.

Emergency Steps include:

  1. If a swimmer gets stuck to a drain, making sure someone shuts off the pump and calls 911;
  2. Since it may be impossible to lift someone off of a drain due to suction forces, the rescuer should aim to reach across the person and then roll or peel the person off of the drain by pulling sideways; and
  3. Being prepared to perform CPR or other life saving measures until help arrives.

For more information about swimming pool entrapment, please check out the following links:

Toronto4Kids: Pool Drain Safety for Kids Canadian Public Pool Safety Standards

Thank you for another successful Bowlathon!!

July-22-14 by Leah May

Thank you

Cheque presentation14

Back row: lawyers Robert Martin, Bruce Hillyer, James Page, David Hayward     Front row: lawyers Claire Wilkinson, Stephen Abraham, and Director of BIAPH, Jorun Rucels

Martin & Hillyer Associates is proud to announce the beneficiary of the 2014 Charity Bowl-A-Thon...

February-19-14 by Leah May


Come out and support our 20th Annual Charity Bowl-A-Thon!!!

This year Martin & Hillyer Associates will be raising funds in support of BIAPH, the Brain Injury Association of Peel and Halton. BIAPH is a fantastic non-profit, charitable organization which exists for the needs of families and survivors of brain injury in the Peel and Halton Regions.  

The annual event will once again take place at Burlington Bowl on Harvester Road at Walkers Line on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014.  Bowling runs from 6:00pm-8:00pm and during the course of the evening there are many other events happening such as the silent auction, brown bag raffle, and back b popular demand - the pie smack!

If you would like to take part in this wonderfully enjoyable annual event or make a prize or cash donation, please complete the form(s) provided below. For further information about this event you may contact the event coordinator at

2014 Sponsor/Donation Form

2014 Bowler Registration Form

Winter lessons: HOW TO WALK ON ICE

January-27-14 by Leah May

Here's one way you can avoid having to hire the injury experts at Martin & Hillyer this winter.



Got salt? This winter, it might not be enough

January-23-14 by Laura Hillyer

blog winter roadsThe term "global warming" may seem like a misnomer when the temperature has been dipping to -20 C or lower. But whether you call it a cold snap, a polar vortex or climate change, let's face it-we Canadians are getting some extreme cold this winter.

This deep chill is creating slick conditions for Ontario motorists. And if you think that applying more salt to the roads is going to help, think again.

A recent report by Global News pointed the finger at cold weather for a 10-car pileup on the Gardiner Expressway earlier this month. The temperature had dropped to -22 C overnight-and when it's that cold, salt just doesn't work.

While salt is effective at removing frost and snow and breaking up ice packs on pavement, the conditions and timing must be right. When salt is applied to roads, the aim is for the salt to dissolve and form a solution of salt and water-called brine-that melts the snow or ice and prevents it from adhering to the pavement. But salt or brine is not generally used when it's below -10 C or -15 C due to the risk of refreezing. As the ice melts, more water is introduced to the solution, and the temperature at which the brine will refreeze increases. That translates into slippery conditions. Read more about the science behind this from Environment Canada.

These slippery conditions put an onus on both road authorities and drivers. Road authorities need to use other agents such as gravel or sand to help with traction. Motorists need to be aware of the weather and drive according to road surface conditions.

Read the Winter Road Conditions Reports on the Ministry of Transportation website, or call them for reports by phone at 1-800-268-4686 (1-866-471-8929 TTY). The MTO's brochure Winter Driving: Be Prepared, Be Safe! contains information about driving safely during winter road conditions, including a section on what the MTO does to control ice and snow on highways.

Contributed by Laura Hillyer, an OTLA Board member and chair of OTLA's Public Relations Committee (2013-2014). Ms. Hillyer is a lawyer practising with Martin & Hillyer Associates in Burlington, Ont.

Originally published at, re-published by permission from Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

Diffusion MRI technology demonstrates neurological abnormalities months after mild concussion symptoms have faded

December-09-13 by Laura Hillyer

Brain injuries are often referred to as "invisible injuries" due to the limitations of brain imaging technology. That may be changing with the advent of Diffusion MRI technology.

In a study published in a recent issue of Neurology, researchers revealed that abnormalities from a mild concussion can be seen to linger up to four months after the actual injury. These abnormalities may not show up on standard MRI or CT scans, but can be detected using diffusion MRI technology. One of the abnormalities, a higher degree of fractional anisotrophy, might be an indication of the healing process, according to a study presented to the Radiological Society of North America.

The study found that even after the symptoms of a mild concussion have receded-including memory loss and difficulty maintaining attention-the physiology of the brain seems to take quite a bit longer. If this is the case, people who have suffered a mild concussion may need more time before they can return to their pre-injury activity level.

For brain injury victims, this technology offers hope that the so-called "invisible disability" may one day be better understood.

Read the full article on the Smithsonian blog.

Contributed by Laura Hillyer, an OTLA Board member and chair of OTLA's Public Relations Committee (2013-2014). Ms. Hillyer is a lawyer practising with Martin & Hillyer Associates in Burlington, Ont.

Originally published at, re-published by permission from Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

Get Home Safely this Holiday Season with Operation Red Nose

November-19-13 by Laura Hillyer

OTLA is proud to once again be the provincial sponsor for Operation Red Nose, a designated driving program running throughout the holiday season in 10 communities across Ontario Canada.

"We are very excited once again to be a part of Operation Red Nose," said Laura Hillyer, chair of OTLA's Public Relations committee. Ms. Hillyer was on hand at the November 18 launch of Operation Red Nose in Burlington. "Operation Red Nose has a strong history of providing a valuable service that has kept our roads safe during the holiday season over many years in communities across the country."

This service, which is free for users, is provided by driving teams made up of three volunteers. A driver and a navigator ride with the client in the client's car, while an escort driver follows behind in the his or her own car. Last year in all communities, the program achieved its goal of zero crashes, zero injuries and zero fatalities on the days in which Operation Red Nose provided service. The 2012 campaign saw a total of 18,202 Ontario citizens receive a safe ride home, thanks to Operation Red Nose. A total of 178,148 kilometres were driven, and Operation Red Nose collected $133,741 in donation funds.

Operation Red Nose is spearheaded in Ontario by the Ontario Safety League, and supported by OTLA as the provincial sponsor, along with hundreds of community volunteers.

"OTLA has nearly 1,500 lawyers and law clerks across the province. We work to seek justice for people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents, in slip and fall cases, in medical negligence and other types of accidents," continued Ms. Hillyer. So we are far too familiar with the consequences of what happens when injuries occur and, as a result of our experience, we are dedicated to working to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place."

The 2013 campaign will run throughout the holiday season on Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 22, 23 and 29, from 9:00pm to 3:00am. To access the service, visit the Operation Red Nose website and select the "Get a Ride" option to locate your community.

Laura Hillyer ORN launch 2013 Laura Hillyer, chair of OTLA's Public Relations committee, joins the Ontario Safety League and St. John's Ambulance to launch Operation Red Nose in Burlington, Ontario.



Originally published at, re-published by permission from Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

Martin & Hillyer Associates Release New Informative Guide for Medical Professionals

November-19-13 by Leah May

Being an expert witness in a legal proceeding can be daunting, even for an experienced medical professional.  

Recognizing the lack of information available to medical professionals, the team at Martin & Hillyer Associates put together a Resource Guide that will assist experts in providing medical-legal opinions.  Frequently asked questions are answered and illustrative examples are provided.

The guide is divided into three (3) segments:

1. Your Role as an Expert.

2. Writing a Medical-Legal Report      

3. Testifying in Court.

This guide will be available for download through our website and will assist medical professionals involved in legal cases.


Put the phone down! Ontario's Top Court sends strong message to distracted drivers

September-30-13 by Laura Hillyer

The Ontario Court of Appeal delivered two decisions on Friday September 26th which make it very clear that even holding a cellphone while driving constitutes an offence.

The decisions will make enforcement of s.78.1(1)of the Highway Traffic Act much easier for police as the Court found that there is no requirement for the Crown to actually prove the device was being used or was capable of receiving or transmitting.

In the Kazemi decision Justice Goudge wrote:

"Road safety is best ensured by a complete prohibition on having a cell phone in one's hand at all while driving. A complete prohibition also best focuses a driver's undivided attention on driving. It eliminates any risk of the driver being distracted by the information on the cell phone. It removes any temptation to use the cell phone while driving. And it prevents any possibility of the cell phone physically interfering with the driver's ability to drive. In short, it removes the various ways that road safety and driver attention can be harmed if a driver has a cell phone in his or her hand while driving."

The clear message from the Court is that the danger posed by drivers who text or talk while driving is unacceptable from a public safety perspective.

R. v. Kazzemi, 2013 ONCA 585 can be found at

R. v. Pizzuro, 2013 ONCA 584 can be found at 


Sidney Crosby interview again focuses attention on Brain Injury Victims

September-05-13 by Laura Hillyer

Peter Mansbridge's "One on One" Interview with Sidney Crosby once again reminded Canadians of the challenges faced by victims of traumatic brain injury.  Sidney discussed his difficult recovery and described being unable to do basic things like read or watch tv.  He was frustrated by his injury and even wondered whether he would be unable to return to professional hockey. 

The media attention focussed on Sidney's story helps to bring public awareness to the experience of brain injury victims.  So often, victims feel misunderstood, due to the varied nature of symptoms.  As Sidney stated "It's a hard one to understand unless you've gone through it." 

Local brain injury survivors looking for support may wish to contact our local brain injury association.  Later this month, a number of programs are starting in Burlington and elsewhere in the Halton region.  Details regarding support groups can be found at

Sidney is preparing to start his ninth NHL season and we hope that he will continue to be symptom free and will play well!

The interview can be found at