Two police officers and three paramedics were injured in an explosion during an armed hostage-taking training exercise in Ottawa on Wednesday morning, police sources have told CBC News.
The explosion occurred just after 10 a.m. ET during a joint force-entry exercise into an abandoned residence, Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said. The training exercise involved Ottawa police officers, paramedics and RCMP officers.
The simulation involved other officers inside the house pretending to be victims and suspects, police sources told CBC News. The devices are "triple checked" before use and when a detonation occurs, all officers have to take cover before explosions, the sources said.
The two Ottawa police officers suffered minor injuries, paramedics said.
Two paramedics — Supt. Craig MacInnes and Reid Purdy — suffered serious injuries. A third, Bradley Ross, suffered minor injuries, said Ottawa paramedic chief Anthony Di Monte at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
MacInnes was one of the paramedics who subdued former RCMP officer Kevin Gregson after he killed Const. Eric Czapnik in 2009.
The three paramedics are men in their 30s and they all have previous tactical unit experience. They were wearing protective gear when the explosion occurred, Di Monte said.
Their injuries included second-degree burns on hands and legs. The MacInnes and Purdy were intubated as a precaution to prevent their airways from swelling shut, which can sometimes happen when hot gas is inhaled, Di Monte said.
The paramedics do not appear to have sustained any respiratory damage.
Di Monte said Ross, meanwhile, rushed to help his more seriously hurt colleagues after the blast. The paramedics were first taken to the Queensway Carleton Hospital, and were later transferred to the Ottawa Hospital's General campus.
Training operation specifics unclear
Earlier Wednesday, Bordeleau said police can't go into specifics about the training operation because of the investigations under way.
"What type of explosives, how it was detonated — I can't comment on that because that will be part of the Special Investigations Unit investigation."
Ontario's Ministry of Labour is also investigating.
The SIU investigates incidents in which police officers are involved in serious injuries or death. Bordeleau said the SIU invoked its mandate because paramedics are considered civilians.
"Paramedics are part of the training exercise because they work hand-in-hand with the Ottawa police service to ensure the safety and security of all during these types of operations," Bordeleau said.
Witnesses near the training facility on March Road in Kanata told CBC News they heard a "big bang" that sounded like an explosion.