Man faces assault charges after rush-hour confrontation on Deerfoot Trail

By Yolande Cole,
Calgary Herald

Calgary paramedics will undergo a new two-day critical-incident training course, health officials announced Tuesday, as police charged a man in connection with a confrontation on Deerfoot Trail that injured two paramedics and a police officer.

Calgary police said while investigators are still working out what led to the altercation, witnesses have reported seeing a green/grey 2006 Acura MDX swerving into the median a number of times and colliding with vehicles.

Several paramedics and firefighters were involved in a struggle with a male occupant of the Acura. 

“The man actively assaulted the paramedics, resulting in one receiving head injuries,” police said. 

A second paramedic continued to struggle with a man inside the vehicle before several police officers arrived. During the altercation, police say three officers discharged stun guns. 

“It is believed the second medic inadvertently touched the wires . . . resulting in a small shock,” police said. 

Officers removed the man from the vehicle, and he was restrained and sedated. The paramedic with head injuries was taken to hospital in stable condition.

“A CEW (conducted energy weapon) probe was found on the medic, however, it is not yet known if he came into contact with it as a direct result of a CEW deployment, or if it was an indirect contact as a result of his struggle with the suspect,” police said. 

“At this time, it is believed that neither paramedic was hit by a direct CEW deployment during the incident. Their contact was indirect, as part of the ongoing struggle.”

Kent Douglas Wilson, 52, is charged with assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault against a peace officer and resist arrest in relation to the incident. He is scheduled to appear in court July 5. 

Alberta’s chief paramedic said incidents such as the Monday confrontation are traumatic for everyone who works in the field. 

“We’re very happy that they’re OK and they’re going to be back to work,” said Darren Sandbeck, Alberta Health Services EMS chief paramedic.

Sandbeck said beginning in June, AHS is implementing a new, non-violent critical incident training program for paramedics. The mandatory two-day program is scheduled to be provided to all AHS EMS staff by the end of 2018.

Occupational Health and Safety had previously ordered AHS to provide workers with additional self-defence training by April 14, 2017, according to documents obtained by Postmedia. 

A request by AHS for an extension on that order was initially denied by OHS, but ultimately the health body was granted additional time to comply with the order to provide a two-day training program to at least 966 EMS staff in the Calgary region and others across the province.

“We will train all 2,800 of our staff across the province over the next year and a half or so, so that training will teach them skills like verbal de-escalation, about putting something between themselves and violent patients, and then, as a last resort, how to break holds or how to get away from violent patients,” said Sandbeck.

The union that represents AHS paramedics criticized the timeline for implementation of the training program. 

“Unfortunately, they’re providing dates that we are not in agreement (with) — 2018 December is too far away,” said Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

“This should have been ongoing since 2009 and should have never stopped.”

Parker said before AHS took over ground ambulance services in 2009, workers used to go through a two-day training course on non-violent crisis intervention, in addition to annual recertification programs.

Parker said since 2009, that training has been “inconsistent and insufficient.”

“The work that these folks are involved in is highly critical daily,” said Parker.

“Sometimes things go wrong, and when you’ve got an entire generation of workers that have not been trained in non-violent crisis intervention, this is the result. And I’m just glad today that we’re talking about an injury and not a fatality.”

Sandbeck said the two-day program will replace a current single-day training requirement, which has been in place since last year. 

“There’s been variations of this program throughout the history of AHS,” he said. 

“There was a different program that was operating in 2009. We chose in late 2016 to begin the one-day training program and have now — due to the increasing numbers of violence, both physical and verbal toward our paramedics — we’ve now elected to move to this two-day training program to better equip our staff.”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said the incident is being reviewed.

“This is also paramedics week and hearing about these tragic instances, certainly our hearts go out to the workers — those who, in case of tragedy, run to the front lines, not away from it,” she told reporters.

“We are going to continue to work with their employer, Alberta Health Services, as well as with their union, HSAA, to find ways to ensure that every Albertan who goes to work can come home safe at the end of the day.”

— With files from Meghan Potkins

http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/man-faces-assault-charges-after-confrontation