Crowds at Raptors parade played role in infants death?
June 27, 2019
June 27, 2019 9:29 PM EDT
Raptors Championship parade on Monday June 17, 2019. (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)
The throng of more than 2 million people crowding downtown streets for the Raptors parade may have led to the fatality of a newborn, according to media reports.
The heads of two first-responder unions spoke out about how paramedics struggled to reach a baby that became unresponsive while being breastfed at the NBA Champions celebration along the parade route, near University Ave. and York St.
Global News reported that police — along with paramedics — rushed the baby to a hospital but were lagged by the swarms of people. The infant fatality is still being investigated by Toronto Police.
“Our honour guard was marching in the parade to honour the Raptors and that’s comprised of possibly active paramedics — who are off-duty and are volunteering — or retired medics,” said Mike Merriman, unit chair for CUPE Local 416.
Someone in the crowd flagged the off-duty paramedics to come help assist the mother and police.
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“The child was vital signs absent — no pulse, no breathing — and basically the decision was made, ‘We’re not going to get a unit in here any time soon with these types of crowds, so they took the infant over in a police cruiser to the hospital.’”
Mayor John Tory said the incident “increases my own determination” to see a review of the parade.
And a joint statement from the city, Toronto Police and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said reports that neither medics nor police could get to the baby are unfounded. The infant arrived at hospital in six minutes from the police arriving at the scene.
“The death of a child is always tragic and the City of Toronto, its agencies and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) express their deepest condolences to the baby’s parents and family for their loss,” said the statement.
Tory, meanwhile, added while the the parade was supposed to be a joyous occasion, “the success of it put a huge strain on, and caused significant risk, and I think we’re going to have to find better ways to do it going forward.”
Merriman added that the annual Caribbean Carnival’s Grande Parade — with an estimated 1.3 million attending each year — is given more paramedic resources than the Raptors celebration event. He also said there should’ve been double the number of paramedics allocated to the Raptors parade.
“It was chaos, absolute chaos — it was like packing sardines in a can. There was no where to go.” said Merriman.
Toronto fans watch a man climbing down a pole as they fill the streets in front of city hall, during the Toronto Raptors NBA Championship celebration rally at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 17, 2019. (REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang)
It also took about an hour for paramedics to get another patient — who suffered a heart attack — to a downtown hospital from Nathan Phillips Square. In that case, people were beating on the ambulance trying to get the paramedics to attend to other people in need of assistance.