Active shooter training still not sufficient following Portapique: paramedic union

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia paramedics say more active shooter training needed following mass shooting' Nova Scotia paramedics say more active shooter training needed following mass shooting
WATCH: It’s been more than two years since the Nova Scotia mass shooting, but paramedics still don’t feel prepared to respond to critical incidents, according to their union. The concerns are being raised after first-responding paramedics in Portapique spoke out at the public inquiry earlier this week, saying their safety was compromised. Graeme Benjamin reports – Jun 15, 2022

The union representing paramedics in Nova Scotia says the current active shooter training still isn’t up to standard, after first responders who worked during the 2020 mass shooting told an inquiry they were put into a position of danger “we should never been put in.”

The mass casualty commission, which is looking into the April 2020 mass shooting that claimed 22 lives in the Portapique, N.S. area, heard from the paramedics on Monday.

Read more: Mass shooting inquiry - N.S. paramedics offer dramatic testimony about their role

“Things that I think are really important in order to grow from the whole situation still hasn’t been addressed,” Melanie Lowe told the inquiry.

The paramedics were staged just off Portapique Beach Road across from Blueberry Field Road, which the shooter used to escape.

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The first responders went home that night not knowing he was still on the loose, and was told to come back to work the next day.

“At the end of the day, where was the support? Where was the care?” said paramedic Jeff Aucoin.

Kevin MacMullin, a spokesperson with International Union for Operating Engineers Local 727, which represents Nova Scotia paramedics, says the current active shooter training isn’t sufficient.

“We should be fully prepared to know what to do when we arrive on those scenes, how to protect ourselves and our patients,” said MacMullin.

“It’s something that’s high time to be done. This is two years later and we’re not trained.”

The lack of mental health services has also been a concern, with all the paramedics saying they never received follow-up calls after their post-incident briefing.

“Something that traumatic, they should have been put off work for an indefinite period,” said MacMullin.

EHS, which employs the paramedics, did acknowledge in a statement that they “continue to learn about how we could have supported them more fully since that unexpected event.”

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Click to play video: 'Paramedics who responded to N.S. mass shooting testify at inquiry' Paramedics who responded to N.S. mass shooting testify at inquiry
Paramedics who responded to N.S. mass shooting testify at inquiry – Jun 13, 2022

An internal review process found several areas of change, including moving EHS radios to an encrypted system and drafting guideline that states employees will be relieved from duty “in these instances.”

EHS Executive Director Charbel Daniel told Global News that among the changes made since the mass shooting are a bolstered mental health team and an overhaul of its “All Hazards Plan.”

“Ensuring that our teams have a voice, that they’re heard, and that our continuous improvement process is led by their voices and the changes that they’d like to see,” explained Daniel.

Daniel praised the first responders who answered the call that day, saying EHS “greatly appreciate the strength and honesty the team has demonstrated.”

As for the first responders, they hope sharing their experience will result in real change, although that is yet to be seen.

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“If it happened again tomorrow, I don’t see what would be different,” Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatcher Bruce Cox told the inquiry.

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