Grieving family questions lack of Ornge response
Matthew Coutts, ctvtoronto.ca
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 1:58PM EDT
The family of a man killed in a crash near Stouffville, Ont., believes he may have survived if an air ambulance had been dispatched.
Jorge Ribeiro, the father of 28-year-old Robert Ribeiro, said he is devastated by the death of his son and does not understand why an Ornge air ambulance did not respond to the crash Wednesday.
"They had an air ambulance and it was not available for him. It was a life. When he got to [hospital] his heart collapsed. It is not acceptable for this country that this happened," he told CTV Toronto.
"I lost a son. It's a real loss. I feel like there is a hole in my heart."
Robert Ribeiro, an Oshawa husband and father of a toddler, was killed when the cube van he was driving crashed on a highway northeast of Toronto.
Ribeiro worked for his father-in-law's construction company and was on his way home after a night shift.
At 6:45 a.m., he crossed the median on Bloomington Road and clipped a passing dump truck, tearing the van apart and trapping him inside.
It took more than 10 minutes for emergency crews to pull Ribeiro from the vehicle using the Jaws of Life. Emergency officials called for an air ambulance, but one was not available.
Instead, Ribeiro was rushed to Sunnybrook hospital in a land ambulance and died shortly after he arrived.
Ornge has two helicopters based at Toronto's island airport. One was already on another call at the time of the crash. The other could not attend because of overtime regulations.
One crew finished at 6 a.m. and a relief crew was unable to fly until 7:15 a.m. because they had worked late during their previous shift.
While there is no guarantee Ribeiro would have survived had he been flown to hospital, politicians at Queen's Park feuded over Ornge staff shortages on Wednesday.
Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees said staffing issues were behind Ornge's inability to send an air ambulance to the crash, despite the Liberal government's assurance that they were addressing the issue.
Health Minister Deb Matthews told reporters that she had requested an investigation into the incident.
"My heart goes out to the family and I think it's very important that we actually let that investigation unfold," Matthews said on Wednesday.
Riberio's family has said they hope their son's death is not used for political purposes, or to further an agenda at Queen's Park, but they do want problems with Ornge to be fixed, so this doesn't happen to another family.
With files from CTV Toronto's Scott Lightfoot and Paul Bliss