Nova Scotia

Union calls for St. FX partygoers who climbed on ambulance to be disciplined

The union representing Nova Scotia paramedics is calling for disciplinary actions after two young partygoers climbed on an ambulance Sunday during an incident at St. Francis Xavier University.

The school has opened an investigation into the Sunday night incident

A sign marks one of the entrances to the St. Francis Xavier University campus in Antigonish, N.S., on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. The school is investigating an incident where people climbed on an ambulance Sunday night. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The union representing Nova Scotia paramedics is calling for disciplinary action to be taken after two young partygoers climbed on an ambulance Sunday during an incident at St. Francis Xavier University.

A video was shared with CBC News on Monday that shows two young men on an ambulance being cheered on by others. The video is edited to show a MacIsaac Hall logo, which is a residence at the Antigonish, N.S., university.

St. FX spokesperson Kyler Bell said in an email Monday that the school was aware an ambulance was called to campus Sunday evening, but "not of any reports related to people climbing on an ambulance."

Bell said the school has opened an investigation into the incident. 

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727 said in a release Tuesday that the situation happened when paramedics were on scene to respond to a call.

"It was a slap in the face to the paramedics of this province who have been on the front line during this pandemic for the last 18 months," Michael Nickerson, business manager for the union local, said in an interview. "It's just wrong. It's absolutely wrong."

Neither the union nor the university indicated why the ambulance was called. RCMP confirmed Tuesday that officers were not called to Sunday night's scene.

While Nickerson said he's "quite upset and angry" about the situation, he doesn't believe the people involved should be expelled, if they are indeed students. He would like to see the partygoers make a public apology to the paramedics of the province, and take ownership of their actions.

Nickerson said he planned to reach out to the university, but if it was students involved he would leave any specific consequences up to the school.

St.FX says disciplinary process will be followed

In a letter to the school community Tuesday, vice-president of students Elizabeth Yeo said the behaviours demonstrated within the video footage are "shocking, disappointing, and totally unacceptable."

Yeo said the university's code of conduct outlines the investigatory and disciplinary processes that they will now follow. 

"To be clear, if these individuals are identified as StFX students, they will be subject to our disciplinary process," she said.

The code of conduct lists various outcomes for students breaking the code, including written warnings, fines, residence expulsion, or loss of privileges.

The union has not contacted police about the incident and any potential fines, Nickerson said, since that would be up to EHS, which operates the ambulance service.

Michael Nickerson, business agent for the International Union of Operating Engineers, says the young people who climbed on the ambulance should apologize, and face consequences if they are students. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

In their release, the union questioned what might have happened if paramedics had been in the ambulance treating a patient at the time. Since many procedures require a steady hand, rocking and shaking the vehicle could have caused serious harm. 

Or, if paramedics had returned to the ambulance with a patient in critical condition, the minutes lost waiting for "inconsiderate party-goers" to get out of the way could have been the difference between life and death.

"What these people did was thoughtless, inconsiderate and potentially extremely dangerous for themselves, our paramedics and the patient they were there to help," the statement said.

CBC has reached out to EHS for more information on the incident and will update this story with any response.

With files from Taryn Grant