ABOVE: A tactical training exercise for an elite squad of police and paramedics turned into a real-life emergency. Five people were injured, including two paramedics who suffered serious burns. Mike Le Couteur has the details.
OTTAWA – Two male paramedics in their 30s from an elite tactical unit are in intensive care with second-degree burns following an explosion during a training exercise that also injured another paramedic and two police officers.
Anthony Di Monte, chief of Ottawa Paramedic Service, said the two paramedics sustained burns to their hands, behind their legs and other parts of their bodies and are in “very serious condition,” but stable.
Their injuries are not life-threatening, he said.
“There was a blast, and a flame. So they have burn injuries. They don’t seem to have traumatic injuries at this time, but again we’re letting the intensive care team look at that in more detail,” Di Monte told reporters outside the Ottawa Hospital.
“They’ve been sedated, they are stable right now and under care by the team.”
WATCH: Anthony Di Monte, chief of Ottawa Paramedic Service, explains how the injuries occurred during a door breaching exercise
Five people were injured Wednesday during an Ottawa police and RCMP training accident that happened around 10 a.m., at an abandoned house in the west Ottawa suburb of Kanata. The three others sustained only minor injuries, police said.
The training exercise involved small forced-entry explosives to breach doors and windows, Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau told reporters.
“One of the explosives blasted some of the officers,” he said. “What type of explosives, how it was detonated, I can’t comment on that.”
Both the ministry of labour and the Special Investigations Unit are investigating.
About 40 people took part in the exercise. The injured paramedics were all wearing protective gear and specialty equipment, Di Monte said.
“These are elite paramedics that are highly-skilled and highly-trained to work in these types of situations,” he said.
“On the scene there were other tactical members, so when the incident occurred obviously they came to the aid of their colleague.”
Initially, the two paramedics were intubated as a protective measure, Di Monte said. But there is no sign of swelling, or edema, that can occur when someone breathes in hot gases close to a flame, he said.
Receptionist Marie Little works for a cosmetic surgeon whose office is close to where the police exercise was taking place.
“We heard a boom, but did not investigate,” she told Global News.
“It sounded like a dump truck when the door slams. It didn’t alarm us at the time because we thought it was a dump truck”
“We were not notified about the police exercise,” she added.
Di Monte said the training is done “on a regular basis.”
“This is a tactical operation that we’re very used to doing,” he said. “Something went wrong.”
– with files from Bryan Mullan
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