March 21, 2016 6:32 pm
Updated: March 21, 2016 6:45 pm

Paramedic said he didn’t have right-sized equipment in trial of Alberta parents accused in son’s death

WATCH ABOVE: Week four of the trial of David and Collet Stephan began with testimony from first responders who treated 18-month-old Ezekiel Stephan. Quinn Campbell reports.

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LETHBRIDGE- The fourth week in the trial of David and Collet Stephan opened in Lethbridge court Monday.  It included testimony from the paramedic that treated their son, who said he didn’t have properly sized equipment for such a young patient in his ambulance.

Ezekiel Stephan died of meningitis in March 2012 at the age of 18 months after he quit breathing at his parents’ home in Glenwood.

David Stephan, 32, and Collet Stephan, 35, are charged with failing to provide the necessities of life. They pleaded not guilty.

Paramedic Kenneth Cherniawsky, who met David and Collet along the side of the highway on their way to hospital, took the stand Monday. He testified it appeared Collet had been giving Ezekiel CPR.

He took Ezekiel into the ambulance, and described him as not moving or breathing, with his eyes closed and face ashen in color.

An electrocardiogram machine also showed a flat line, meaning his heart was not beating.

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the trial of David and Collet Stephan


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Cherniawsky testified the ambulance was not equipped with the right sized bag valve mask, so they put in an endotracheal tube, which was also not the right size. However, air was moving into him, making his chest rise and fall. He said Ezekiel’s condition did not change from when the ambulance arrived to when he got to the hospital.

When the Crown asked if he had done everything he could according to his protocols to help Ezekiel, he said, “yes”.

During cross examination by defence lawyer Shawn Buckley, Cherniawsky told court there are a number of sizes of pediatric bag valve masks, and that his ambulance only had one that was standard for an eight to 10-year-old.

He testified that due to a miscommunication when Alberta Health Services took over the ambulance service about a year prior, the pediatric masks for smaller children had been removed. That meant only the one standard-sized mask was in the ambulance.

Cherniawsky said he had requested the masks be restocked, but the request was never filled.

He also testified the other sizes of bag valve masks were returned to the ambulance a week after Ezekiel’s death.

Prior to Cherniawksy’s testimony Monday, Dr. Lloyd T. Clarke continued on the stand after speaking last week.

Clarke was a physician who treated Ezekiel Stephan at Cardston Hospital when he arrived by ambulance after his parents called for help.

As Clarke’s testimony continued Monday, he told court the toddler’s heart began beating rapidly after he was given atropine at the hospital. (Atropine is a medication used to treat some types of slow heart rate).

Clarke said about seven minutes after his arrival he had a heartbeat, blood pressure and his colour improved.  However, previous testimony from the medical examiner indicated Ezekiel was already brain dead.

Eighteen-month-old Ezekiel’s body was stiff, he refused to eat and was lethargic for weeks leading up to his death from meningitis, court previously heard. The toddler’s parents allegedly turned to natural remedies, feeding him water with maple syrup and smoothies with berries, garlic and ginger root.

The trial is scheduled to wrap up this week.

READ MORE: Should parents be forced to give kids conventional medicine? Alberta case raises ethical questions

With a file from Global News

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