Monday, November 19, 2007

Heart attack patient delayed at US-Canada border

I suppose perhaps the border guards fear that an ambulance or firetruck will be used by terrorists to penetrate the sacred inner sanctum of the US and blow up hundreds. Of course that is possible but so remote as to hardly justify stopping an emergency vehicle for 5 minutes. Would it really take that long to find out that it wasn't a terrorist plot? I think that the war on terror has made some border guards a bit paranoid. The same sort of thing happened to a fire truck crossing from Quebec to fight a fire in the US. If there is thought to be a problem surely people could phone ahead.

Heart attack patient delayed at U.S.-Canada border
Updated Sun. Nov. 18 2007 9:46 PM ET News Staff

Canadian officials are calling for a review of border security after ambulance workers were delayed while transporting a heart attack patient to a Detroit hospital.

"It's another sad chapter of what's happening at the border," New Democrat MP Brian Masse told CTV News. "It's becoming a militarized zone."

The incident happened last Monday, when 46-year-old Rick Laport needed emergency angioplasty -- a procedure that couldn't be performed at his Windsor, Ont., hospital.

Medical officials rushed Laport to the border, expecting to be waved through so they could take him to Detroit's Henry Ford medical facility.

Instead, U.S. customs asked the male driver to exit the vehicle and show his identification card. Another border official opened the back of the ambulance to confirm a patient was inside, and asked Laporte to verify his name.

"What happened on Monday is something that you don't expect to happen with the protocols in place," Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis told CTV News.

The ambulance workers were only delayed by five minutes, but Laport's heart had already been re-started twice by paramedics. The patient's wife, Kat Lauzon, said he could have died.

"We need something done about this," said Laport's wife, Kat Lauzon. "This needs to be changed. Not one person should die because of that type of miscommunication, or whatever you want to call it."

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day expressed concern about the delay in a letter to his U.S. counterpart, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

"Canada and the U.S. have a long-standing tradition of helping one another in times of emergency," he wrote. "I am quite concerned about this incident."

Day asked Chertoff that border procedures be reviewed.

Just last week, Quebec firefighters responding to a call for help from their American counterparts were also delayed at the border.

For nearly 40 years, members of the Lacolle Fire Department have pooled their resources with firefighters in Rouses Point, a town a few minutes south of the border in New York.

Last Sunday, Lacolle firefighters hoped to help extinguish a blaze at the Anchorage Inn, a well-known landmark in Rouses Point.

Because they were dressed in their gear, most of the firefighters didn't have any form of identification. As a result, they were delayed about 10 minutes at the border before they could reach their destination.

With a report by CTV's Joel Bowey in Kitchener, Ont.


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