It was reported on Thursday afternoon that paramedics and officers were delayed responding to a baby who suffered a fatal medical episode during the Raptors victory parade, due to the significant crowding at the event. First responder units told Global News on Thursday that the baby was postponed getting to the hospital due to the crowds, and was unable to travel by ambulance. City officials are now disputing this report, saying it is unfounded.
According to initial reports, a mother was feeding her baby at approximately 1:30 PM during the Raptors victory parade in Toronto, when suddenly the infant became unresponsive. Police and medics were alerted and had to force their way through considerable crowds to attend the scene. Although paramedics did manage to reach the infant, the medical episode was reportedly fatal, and the baby later died.
A new statement released by Toronto City, Toronto Police and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has disputed this account, saying “reports that neither medics nor police could get to the baby are unfounded.”
CP24 reports that the new statement reads, “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 report continues, “According to those involved, the baby was initially vital signs absent however, regained vital signs that afternoon.”
This new report confirms that the child passed away several days after the event, on June 19th. The police statement extended wishes to the family of the infant. “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.”
Despite this, officials from the unions that represent Toronto police officers and paramedics have said that their members did complain of the poor organization at the parade. The police union head, Mike McCormack, told CP24 “Our officers were saying they had a tough time getting to where the baby was.”
McCormack acknowledged that the outcome of the situation was not necessarily preventable, but did say “there was a level of frustration that was exacerbated by the crowds and the poor planning of this parade.”
This sentiment was echoed by Mike Merriman, the paramedic and EMS unit chair for CUPE Local 416, who said “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.”
While the Toronto police and city statement denies any allegations that their officers were delayed in reaching the child, it did confirm that the event organizers and representatives did meet in the days following “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.”
In future, the city has confirmed that they will rely on help from consultants who have experience in such large events. It is believed that approximately two million people descended on Toronto downtown to attend the Raptors celebration parade and rally earlier this month.