First responder units in Toronto are voicing their concern Thursday after it was revealed that a baby died during the Toronto Raptors victory parade. It has been reported that the baby suddenly became ill during the celebratory event, and due to the extremely large crowds, the emergency services were delayed getting to the child.
According to reports from Global News, the baby was being breastfed by its mother during the parade on University Avenue, when the infant became unresponsive at around 1:30 PM. The mother alerted paramedics and police officers, who had to force their way through large crowds to get to the baby. Eventually, they were able to reach the infant but unfortunately, the medical event, which has not been specified, was reportedly fatal.
It was confirmed by Mike Merriman, the paramedic and EMS unit chair for CUPE Local 416, that the baby later died.
It is believed that, although the child was rushed to hospital as quickly as was possible, the woman and the child had no choice but to travel in a police car, rather than an ambulance.
Merriman also told Global that it was possible that Chief Mark Saunders could have rejected offers of help for the parade from other police services in the GTA. However, this claim has been denied by Saunders who told Global News that he didn’t recall turning down any resources.
Saunders said, “We had over 525 resources that were there. What you saw in the public was not all the resources we had that were available. And I’m certainly not going to draw two million officers because that’s just not going to be possible.”
He also added praise for the men and women from the Toronto Police Service, saying they acted professional, courteous and dealt with all circumstances to the best of their ability. He concluded, “They did a fantastic job.”
The exact number of people who were present in the city during the Raptors parade has not been confirmed, but it is expected that over two million people attended. According to reports, overcrowding became a problem from the outset, when staff were forced to close down entry to Nathan Phillips Square as early as noon as the venue was already at overcapacity.
Merriman, however, said the event was a “total disaster,” noting that there was another person that suffered cardiac arrest during the parade, and, again, paramedics were unable to reach them as soon as they should have. He said it took paramedics an hour to get the patient to the hospital.
Some Canadians took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon to express their horror at this news and called on the city to make better plans for big events in future. One Twitter user said her friend was also injured at the event due to overcrowding, saying "my friend and coworker was trampled. [Broke] her tibia which required a metal pole to be put in and her collarbone. It was a mess."
Merriman confirmed that the paramedics who were on scene to help the woman with the baby were honour guards. This means that they are either are former paramedics and/or volunteers. He concluded by saying that the paramedics that responded to the scene are receiving counselling.