Wawakapewin , ON

For nearly six years, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation has been asking for an investigation into the death of a 54-year-old woman on an ORNGE air ambulance.

Sheila Childsforever died of a heart attack on an ORNGE helicopter while she was being medically evacuated from her home in Wawakapewin First Nation.

CBC News has obtained documents containing an initial coroner’s investigation statement on the 2006 death of Childsforever. The documents say delays in the air ambulance service "had some bearing on this patient’s outcome."

"When the late Sheila Childsforever died, we approached the coroner’s office hoping that, if there was an inquest into the late chief’s death, … there would be some recommendations on response airtimes and air ambulance," said Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which includes Wawakapewin.


Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy (CBC)

But the request for an inquest was denied.

"We had hoped to raise the issue of ORNGE and the level of service they’re able to provide to my fly-in communities," Beardy said.

Report's existence denied

Most of the First Nations Beardy represents don’t have road access and air ambulance is their only option for emergency transportation. Wawakapewin is located 350 kilometers north of Sioux Lookout, Ont.

After the death in 2006, ORNGE wrote a report and provided it to the coroner’s office. In a 2007 letter to Nishnawbe Aski Nation, then-ORNGE President Chris Mazza told chiefs that they should contact the coroner’s office to learn what is in the report.

The report from ORNGE is also referred to in an Aug. 8, 2007 letter from the coroner’s office.

"I am also reviewing the report of the ORNGE air ambulance response in this matter," Dr. David Legge wrote.

Legge was the regional supervising coroner in northwestern Ontario at the time.

But Nishnawbe Aski Nation has been unable to obtain a copy of the report. And the coroner’s office has denied to CBC News that such a report exists.

"I was able to speak with the Regional Supervising Coroner of the day who reviewed this case and he stated that there was no coroner’s report with respect to ORNGE specifically," wrote Cheryl Mahyr the Issues Manager at the Office of the Chief Coroner, in an email to CBC.

"The issue of transport was examined in this case but was found to not have affected the outcome."