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Former paramedic on trial ‘distraught’ when learning patient died in Hamilton hospital

Global News

A former Hamilton paramedic said he was in a “state of shock” on the night of Dec 2, 2017, after learning a patient in his care passed by way of a fatal gunshot wound.

On Friday, Steve Snively returned to testify for a second day, offering up his side of an encounter with 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi on a Sanford Avenue sidewalk in Central Hamilton.

Snively and partner Christopher Marchant are accused of failing to provide the necessities of life for Al-Hasnawi who arrived at a non-lead trauma hospital with vital signs absent three years ago.

Read more: Crown suggests former Hamilton paramedic on trial was ‘guessing’ as he treated patient

“I was distraught,” Snively said to an online courtroom.

“We had gone in thinking behavioural, there might have been some underlying organic reason for our call, and when I heard that … I was shocked.”

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Snively said he learned of Al-Hasnawi’s death from his partner Steve Marchant while cleaning and sterilizing the stretcher they used to bring the victim to St. Joe’s hospital.

“It’s not a good feeling when you’re working with somebody and then the next moment they’re no longer with us,” Snively recalled.

The paramedic began his second day describing an encounter with partner Marchant and Hamilton police officer Sgt. Nesreen Shawihat considering the use of restraints for an allegedly “combative” Al-Hasnawi set for a trip to St. Joe’s.

After putting restraints on Al-Hasnawi, Snively said he and Marchant were undertaking another assessment of the patient’s condition and administering a blood glucose test — which is on the basic care checklist for a patient in an altered mental state.

Read more: Crown suggests former Hamilton paramedic on trial participated ‘in a dangerous lift’

“All along, we were verbally communicating with the patient,” said Snively.

“We’re trying to coax him to relax, to reassure him that we’re there to help him. Also trying to encourage him to provide us with any information.”

However, Snively said they weren’t getting any kind of verbal response from Al-Hasnawi and observed increased physical activity as they began to attach 12 leads between the patient and a Zoll electrocardiogram monitor to rule out a heart attack.

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Once the test was cleared, Snively said to Marchant “we got to go” and as the driver, Snively began making his way out of the back of the ambulance.

He told the court the trip involved a lot of increasing and decelerating speeds over the three kilometres to St. Joe’s since it was a busy Saturday night in the city and he used residential streets with two “significant” speed bumps to get to st. Joe’s emergency.

Snively says his partner likely yelled at him when the second patch to St. Joe’s was made in connection to Al-Hasnawi’s deteriorating condition. However, he told his counsel Michael DelGobbo that he didn’t remember the exact words Marchant used.

“It was just been kind of, you know, ‘we need to go four-two, I need upgrade to four-two,’ some kind of dialogue, but the four-two would have been definitive,” Snively said.

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Read more: Former Hamilton paramedic on trial says he was ‘shocked’ when Yosif Al-Hasnawi died

He also could not recall how long it took him to activate the lights for the first time on their trip to St. Joe’s since it was three years ago.

When asked how close he was to the hospital when he hit the lights, he said about one minute 40 seconds.

Snively said he did glance at the Zoll monitor in the ambulance and Al-Hasnawi’s low heart rate as he and Marchant began unhooking the stretcher for the ambulance to lower it to the ground.

“So I saw 45,” said Snively, “And to me, in my mind, I registered that you still have the heart rate and we want to get them in there as quickly as we can because the professionals are on site.”

After learning of Al-Hasnawi’s death, Snively told the court he didn’t have an interaction with the family who was at the hospital, but did meet up with Marchant after he was “yelled at” in an exchange with Al-Hasnawi’s father, Majed.

“He had just gone through an episode of being yelled at, and I just wanted to reassure him that we did everything we could,” Snively said.

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Read more: Defence cross-examines medical director at Hamilton paramedics’ trial

After reviewing and signing an ambulance call report (ACR) filled out by Marchant, Snively went home after a stop at the John Street station.

He would return the next day for a shift and be asked later to return to fill out an incident report before the end of that workday.

After a Niagara Regional Police Service investigation, Snively was arrested on Aug. 1 2018 and Marchant was arrested the following day. Both were later released with a promise to appear.

The partners were fired by the Hamilton Paramedic Service just seven days after their arrest.

Day 26 of the judge-only trial resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Justice Harrison Arrell is expected to hear more testimony from Snively through a cross-examination from the Crown.

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