In his ruling that found two former paramedics guilty of failure to provide the necessities of life to a young man shot outside a Main Street variety store, Superior Court Justice Harrison Arrell, paints a disturbing picture. The ruling described how Paramedics Christopher Marchant and Steven Snively wasted precious minutes arguing whether the 19-year-old Brock University student Yosif Al-Hasnawi had been shot with a BB gun or some other weapon. how they improperly lifted him onto a stretcher and even after he was in the ambulance, they delayed another 16 minutes before shutting the ambulance doors and leaving for the hospital. The matter was further compounded by taking the victim to St Joseph’s Emergency apparently under the impression they were dealing with a psychiatric case, instead of taking him to the General, where the trauma centre is specifically trained and equipped for gunshot cases.
Al-Hasnawi was shot after he tried to intervene when he saw two punks harassing an elderly man. He had just left a nearby mosque where he was worshipping with family members. He was punched by the assailants but did not fall, and then made the fatal mistake of pursuing the pair. In the ensuing pursuit, one of the young men turned and pulled out a pistol and shot the Yosif. Al-Hasnawi’s brother ran into the nearby variety store to summon help and police were on the scene within a couple of minutes, a large crowd of bystanders also formed.
A bystander who was first on the scene told police that the shot “sounded like a BB gun… and regrettably that initial, erroneous impression took root with the crowd and the arriving police officer, and it coloured all the tragic events that followed. As Mr. Justice Arrell noted, “that information was passed on over a short period of time to everyone involved and became crucial in subsequent decision making to the detriment of Yosif. Regrettably, the information was incorrect, as Yosif was shot with a 22-caliber hollow point bullet.”
The Police arrived ten minutes before the ambulance. He examined Yosif’s wound and according to firefighters who had arrived ahead of the ambulance told one of them that Yosif “has been shot with a BB gun and he is acting like it is an AK-47.” The police officer waved off the firefighters, who have better trauma training than police.
A pathologist told the court, that despite the relatively small entry wound, the bullet had severed two major vessels and that Yosif would have only had a 50-50 chance of survival in the trauma ward at the General, but by taking him to St. Joes, which is not the designated trauma facility, the paramedics had reduced his chances. She found two litres of blood in his abdominal cavity.
Before putting Yosif in the ambulance the paramedics tried to get him to stand and walk to the stretcher. He was pulled up by his hands into a sitting position, something the pathologist said should never be done with someone with an abdominal wound. He was subsequently lifted by his arms and legs to be placed onto the stretcher.
Expert witnesses told the court that given what was in front of the paramedics, it should have been treated as a “load and go” situation where the patient is placed in the ambulance immediately and transported to a trauma centre as quickly as possible.
Justice Arrell concluded that “the actions of the accused in the care of Yosif amounted to a marked departure from what should have been expected from reasonably trained primary care paramedics
a) They failed to conclude Yosif suffered a penetrating wound to the abdomen and thereby treat Yosif’s injury as a load and go situation of the highest emergency which required immediate attendance at a trauma hospital.
b) They acquiesced and participated in inappropriate lifts.
c) They delayed in leaving the scene.”
“They knew they could not tell the depth of the wound or the internal damage it might be causing by visualizing it or by any other type of assessment they could do at the scene which is why they were trained that such a wound was an immediate “load and go” to the nearest trauma hospital. They failed to follow those protocols and their extensive training in that regard and as such deprived Yosif of his only possible chance of survival.” Justice Arrell wrote. Dale King, the man who shot Al-Hasnawi, was acquitted last year of second-degree murder. That decision is being appealed by the Crown.
The full test of the decision is here.