Officials deny baby who suffered fatal medical episode at Raptors Parade received delayed treatment
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Thursday, June 27, 2019 7:56PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 27, 2019 11:31PM EDT
City officials are disputing a report that a baby who suffered a fatal medical episode at the Raptors Parade was delayed from getting to the hospital because of the celebration.
A published report Thursday cited police and paramedic sources as saying that emergency services had a difficult time reaching the child because of the large number of people who were in the area.
It has been estimated that as many as two million people attended the Raptors celebration parade and rally downtown on June 17.
In a statement jointly released by the city, Toronto police and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Thursday night, officials said “reports that neither medics nor police could get to the baby are unfounded.”
According to the statement, the mother was with her baby on University Avenue at York Street, just north of Front Street at around 1:30 p.m. when she noticed the child was unresponsive and called for help.
Toronto Paramedic Services said that paramedics in their Ceremonial Guard who were taking part in the parade happened to be nearby and went to help the baby.
“A nearby Toronto Police SUV with two Toronto Police Service employees including an officer and a civilian arrived and rushed the paramedics and the infant to hospital, arriving in 6 minutes,” the statement reads. “According to those involved, the baby was initially vital signs absent however, regained vital signs that afternoon.”
The baby passed away two days later on June 19.
“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,” the police statement reads.
Officials from unions representing Toronto police officers and paramedics both said Thursday that their members complained of poor organization and resources at the parade.
“Our officers were saying they had a tough time getting to where the baby was,” said police union head Mike McCormack.
He said that six minutes is “a lot of time” to travel the route from Front Street to the hospital.
“I’m not saying that if there were more officers, it would have prevented what happened here, but there was a level of frustration that was exacerbated by the crowds and the poor planning of this parade.”
Mike Merriman, the paramedic unit chair of CUPE 416, said paramedics who worked at the parade described the event as “chaos.”
“Just trying to get access to the patients that were there for the parade – all the reports we were getting from our members were that it was just chaos, that it was extremely poorly planned,” Merriman said. “Actually a lot of them were saying they started feeling very uncomfortable and fearing for their safety because crowds can get a little unruly.”
While the police statement denies that emergency responders had trouble reaching the baby, it says that organizers and representatives from multiple city agencies met days later “to discuss the need for a more proactive celebration plan in future, including parade logistics, improved public safety measures, and improved information-sharing for those in attendance.”
The city said an organizing committee will be struck to handle future celebrations and consultants will be hired who have experience staging similar events.
Police and public officials have faced questions over whether the event could have been better planned.
Two stabbing incidents and a shooting marred the celebrations. Many people who attended the rally at Nathan Phillips Square also reported that they were nearly trampled over when the shooting, which injured four people, triggered a stampede of parade-goers.