Repeated calls made to help stricken Toronto man: transcripts

Conversations between a security guard, her dispatch office and EMS operators have provided more information into the death of a Toronto man, a death that some say is linked to the municipal strike.

Conversations between a security guard, her dispatch office and EMS operators have provided more information into the death of a Toronto man, a death that some say is linked to the municipal strike.

Transcripts were provided to CBC News of the conversations concerning the death of James Hearst, who died June 25 in the lobby of his apartment building at 40 Alexander St., near Church Street and Wellesley Street. 

Hearst collapsed in the lobby at about 11 p.m. In the transcripts, other residents quickly come to his assistance and one calls 911 to ask for an ambulance.

James Hearst, 59, died June 22. There have been suggestions the strike by civic workers might have contributed to the death. ((CBC))

A few minutes later, another resident calls Intelligarde — which provides security for the building — and asks for help.

"There's a gentleman who needs assistance. He's bleeding," the caller tells an Intelligarde dispatcher at 11:08 p.m.

The dispatcher contacts the security guard who was on duty at 40 Alexander St. 

At 11:12 p.m., the security guard confirms to the dispatcher she's on the scene. She also confirms that someone in the building has phoned 911. 

Five minutes later, the security guard is back on the radio to the company's dispatch centre, wondering where the emergency medical services people are.

"I'm worried. This guy is turning blue. He's had a really bad head knock. There's no EMS.... I'd feel more comfortable that you guys put a call through and said that, yes, EMS is coming."

The dispatcher asks, "And his face is turning blue?''

The guard says again, "He's turning blue. He's still breathing. There's a lot of blood coming out of his nose. The whole half side of his face is turning blue.''

At 11:19 p.m. Intelligarde makes its first call to 911. 

After being connected with EMS, the Intelligarde dispatch centre is assured, "Yes, we already have help started.''

Sixteen minutes after that, the guard at 40 Alexander calls the dispatch centre again.  "What's the location of the ambulance? Is it even coming? It almost feels like the guy... he stopped breathing. We can't find any pulse at all."

The Intelligarde dispatcher calls EMS again and reports the information. EMS says it wants to "speak to the [guard] directly." 

At 11:45 p.m., the Intelligarde security guard reports the EMS crew has arrived. 

Dispatch asks, "EMS 10-7?" which is code that the ambulance is on scene.

The guard confirms, "10-4."

Hearst, 59, was dead.

Toronto EMS chief Bruce Farr says an ambulance was on scene within nine minutes. But for 'health and safety reasons,' the paramedics did not enter the building. ((CBC))

Hearst's partner, Alejandro Martinez, suggested the EMS delay might have been due to the strike by city workers that began on June 22.

"I mean, how long does it take to 911 to arrive?" he said in an interview with CBC News earlier this week. "I live half block from a fire station, three long blocks from the major hospitals." 

The city's EMS workers are operating at 75 per cent capacity because of the strike, but city officials have said that did not play a role in Hearst's situation. 

Toronto EMS chief Bruce Farr said Tuesday that an ambulance arrived at the scene within nine minutes but didn't enter the building due to "health and safety concerns." 

The City of Toronto has asked the provincial Health Ministry to investigate the incident and has refused to answer any further questions. 

On Friday afternoon at a city hall news conference, Miller was asked whether any disciplinary action had been taken against those involved.

"I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that," he said. "I'm told it's with the [Health] Ministry, but I do want to comment and I think it's extremely important that the ministry's investigating.

"I welcome that investigation. I'm concerned that what happened might, possibly, indicate weaknesses in the system — well beyond the stresses brought about by a strike. And I think it is important that we have an outside investigation so that Torontonians know that it's impartial."