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EMS waited for OPP before entering Onigaming First Nation: KDSB

The Kenora District Services Board has confirmed paramedics were awaiting police support while an Onigaming FIrst Nation man died.
(jason White/1310 NEWS)

KENORA – The head of the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) has offered new details about the EMS response to a death in Onigaming First Nation, which has been criticized by the community's chief.

Onigaming Chief Jeffery Copenace has publicly questioned why paramedics parked an ambulance outside the community's boundaries while a young man awaited medical attention.

In a statement released Wednesday, Henry Wall, Chief Administrative Officer for the KDSB, acknowledged the Onigaming man died while waiting for emergency responders to arrive, and said that was because paramedics requested police support.

“At approximately 10 a.m., Northwest EMS was dispatched to respond to this call in Onigaming First Nation,” Wall writes. “The Primary Care Paramedics that responded to the call requested police support and waited on the community’s perimeter for police to arrive.”

The KDSB oversees Northwest EMS.

According to a report by APTN, Copenace stated the EMS worker did not feel safe entering the community because of a previous altercation in which the worker was attacked. Copenace has not responded to request for comment from NWOnewswatch.

“Paramedics in our region put their lives on the line daily and give their all every day they go to work,” Wall stated. “They are asked to respond to a range of challenging, emergent situations, and assessing risk is a fundamental piece for our paramedics to ensure that they are safe while doing their work.”

Wall said he was invited to visit Onigaming First Nation on Sept. 19. His statement highlighted the need for more resources to provide better services for First Nation communities.

“I want to give thanks to and acknowledge the strength of Chief Copenace, Council, and the community Elders," he said. "Our conversation was difficult, honest, and respectful. My visit to the community highlighted many situations where the community desperately needs more resources and where service providers need to do better.

"I have committed to the community that through the investigation, they will get answers. Our conversation also highlighted that Canada cannot continue to ignore the community’s plea for help and support.”

The KDSB is still conducting its full review of the incident with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health, Wall said.

“Once the full review has been completed, the KDSB will provide the findings to Onigaming First Nation and act upon any findings and recommendations that are identified,” he added.

Wall offered his thoughts and prayer to family members and the community for the loss before stating, “the death of this young man is a tragic and a devastating loss. We want to be respectful to those grieving and affected by this situation and will be providing no further comment on the event's details.”

Clint Fleury

About the Author: Clint Fleury

Clint Fleury is a web reporter covering Northwestern Ontario and the Superior North regions.
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