Former Hamilton paramedic admits asking teen to help lift Yosif Al-Hasnawi onto a stretcher

Brock Student Justice Centre

A former Hamilton paramedic told Crown counsel he was trying to give a patient “some comfort” when he asked a teen —whom he didn’t know — to help him lift a resistant patient onto a stretcher.

“It was meant to give some comfort to the patient, a familiar voice, more so than to actually physically help us do the physical lift,” said Steve Snively, one of two paramedics accused of failing to provide the necessities of life to a 19-year-old shooting victim.

On Wednesday, Snively returned to testify for a third day, answering questions from the Crown in connection to his encounter with Yosif Al-Hasnawi on a Sanford Avenue sidewalk in Central Hamilton on Dec. 2, 2017.

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

Counsel Scott Patterson asked the former paramedic of 12 years why he would ask the 13-year-old brother of the victim to help with a lift, for a third time, with no previous instruction.

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“So the instructions I would have given them is to put his arm underneath his right arm to get close and help us place him on the stretcher,” Snively told Patterson.

“But you must have actually shown him what to do prior to,” Patterson replied. “You couldn’t just rely on verbal instruction.”

“Sometimes we do, sir, sometimes our hands are full and we give verbal instructions to people to do certain things,” said Snively.

Patterson suggested that a “careful paramedic” would speak to the bystander prior to making a third attempt and outline exactly how a “fore and aft lift” would work.

Snively said he did, however, minutes before the paramedic explained to Patterson that his hands were full because he was supporting the victim’s legs.

“So you had already engaged in the third lift by the time you realized it was too much, and wanted to engage Mr. Mahdi Al-Hasnawi’s services? Is that fair?” Patterson asked.

“No, sir. I was squatted down next to the patient. My arms were secured under him. I turned my head as I’m squatted down, looking up at an individual, asking him to come closer to assist us,” Snively said.

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

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Helpful to have notes

During Patterson’s cross-examination, the accused answered a number of questions about what Snively and his partner Christopher Marchant had documented and not documented in their incident and ambulance care reports (ACR) after Al-Hasnawi had died of a gunshot wound.

During the testimony, Patterson outlined for Snively what he was required to report and went as far as exhibiting to the court what the ministry of health and Hamilton paramedic service expect to see when documents are completed.

“You attend a lot of calls. It might be hard to keep the facts straight, so it’s helpful to have notes there,” Paterson out to Snively. “That’s where your ACR is relied on by doctors and nurses in the treatment of a patient, correct?”

Snively responded, “Correct.”

The Crown also reviewed Snively’s training with an updated manual he was tested on in 2017 and highlighted the reason a paramedic should keep detailed notes is in case of an investigation or legal proceeding.

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Earlier in the trial, both paramedics claim to have “palpated” Al-Hasnawi’s wound using both hands to look for rigidity and pain. However, the crown pointed out that the words “palpate” and “palpation” never appeared in either of their ACR or incident reports.

Patterson also noted that an entry was made about how their patient was lying supine on the sidewalk and looking in no immediate distress but was also described as uncooperative and extremely combative just a few lines later.

Snively said what they meant was Al-Hasnawi was initially found in no immediate distress and then “at some point” becomes uncooperative.

“The issue is that you guys just didn’t put a complete set of information in there to be able to distinguish when this was supposed to take place, fair?” Patterson asked.

Snively replied “Fair.”

Earlier, Patterson pointed out the omission of the termemergency psychiatric treatment” from Marchant’s first communication or “patch” with St. Joe’s describing Al-Hasnawi’s condition as he was headed to the hospital.

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

‘I consider all the employees I worked with were friends’

Patterson also asked Snively if he considered Marchant a friend. The former paramedic said that Marchant was a colleague but that he hadn’t known him that long.

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“I guess I consider all the employees I worked with were friends. I never did anything from outside of work,” Snively said.

When asked whether Marchant might see him as a mentor, Snivelty suggested that years don’t make a paramedic more experienced, it’s the calls.

He went on to suggest that a young paramedic who has delivered a baby would have more experience than one that has not.

He did suggest to Patterson that in the case of his work relationship with his partner, over two years, Marchant may have seen him as a mentor.

Examination by the defence

Before questioned by the Crown on Wednesday, Snively completed testimony with his counsel Michael DelGobbo, who asked the paramedic if he had heard about the “mechanism” of Al-Hasnawi’s injury on the night Dec. 2.

Snively said that he heard from someone above him while assessing Al-Hasnawi that it was a pellet gun and that he was later told directly by a witness “specifically” it was a pellet gun.

He also denied ever saying Al-Hasnawi was “faking” his injury and only heard him say “I can’t breath” when he was already on a stretcher and in the back of the ambulance.

In an examination with Marchant’s counsel Jeff Manishen, Snively confirmed that paramedics always work in a world of uncertainty and at times have to make decisions about a patient on what they see.

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

He admitted he released firefighters on scene in 2017, believing he and his partner, prior to Al-Hasnawi becoming combative, could transport him to hospital.

He also told Manishen that they believed Al-Hasnawi’s elevated heart rate was due to his aggression and that they did not warrant an expedited trip.

“We see people with elevated heart rates for various reasons,” Snively said.

“I had the thought that if we could get the patient into the back of the ambulance and tried to calm him down, reassure him, speak with them, we maybe have a little bit of privacy, that maybe we can kind of help him to relax.”

Day 27 of the judge-only trial resumes on Thursday.

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

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