Elderly man taken to hospital after footpath fall calls for council to act on hazardous tactile tiles

Elderly man taken to hospital after footpath fall calls for council to act on hazardous tactile tiles
Brendan Rees

A 73-year-old man has called on the City of Melbourne to replace tactile tiles on footpaths in East Melbourne, following a fall that resulted in him being taken to hospital.

Desmond Ephraums said he suffered mild concussion, as well as a bump on the back of his head as he was walking near the intersection of George and Simpson streets on October 12 last year.

“I was dazed and shocked for a few seconds, I didn’t want to move because I didn’t know if I could at that point,” he said.

Tactiles tiles, also known as tactile ground surface indicators, are made of raised bumps or lines that are placed in the pavement and assist people with disabilities and the wider community to navigate the streets, particularly at intersections.

As reported in the May edition of Inner City News, residents have described the tiles as “walking on an ice rink” in wet conditions, which resident lobby group, the East Melbourne Group, has been urging the City of Melbourne to fix for the past five years as a matter of priority.

Mr Ephraums said he underwent eight weeks of rehabilitation to improve his balance, which had seen him make a full recovery. But he admitted he was “damn lucky” and that “it could’ve been heaps worse”.


“My foot went right under me and before I knew it, I was on my back – it happened very quickly,” he said of the fall, which happened after he had left an appointment with a neurosurgeon to have two aneurysms assessed.


Fortunately, Mr Ephraums said three nurses, who were out on their lunch break, rushed to his aid. They called for an ambulance while the owner of the nearby George St café, Michael Chen, brought an ice pack.

The quick-thinking nurses also managed to get a blood pressure machine sent to the scene from a nearby clinic before Mr Ephraums was taken to the Epworth Hospital where he was placed under observation for about six hours.

He didn’t suffer any permanent injuries, but he hoped his experience would prompt the council to replace all tiles in the area that are less susceptible to wet conditions before someone was seriously injured.

“It’s negligent on their part because they’re not acting on it,” he said, in which his fall left him $400 out of pocket in hospital and medical fees.

“Put some witch’s hats around it or something like that … they did nothing.”

He said he wrote to the City of Melbourne and sent photos of the intersection, to which they later replied saying the tiles had been replaced in December, with other intersections to be addressed.

The council has previously said it would consider a range of amenity works and upgrades in its 23-24 financial year budget to “ensure our city remains a safe, welcoming and accessible place for everyone”. •


Photo: Desmond Ephraums was taken to hospital after tripping on a footpath in East Melbourne. Photo: Supplied.

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