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Home > Topics > Patient Handling
March 16, 2012

Medics guilt-ridden over murder of Canada cop

Responders faced the most difficult decision of their careers — help dying officer or restrain his attacker

By EMS1 Staff

OTTAWA, Canada — Four paramedics who witnessed the murder of a police officer in Ottawa have spoken publicly for the first time about the traumatic event.

Kevin Gregson was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in the stabbing of Const. Eric Czapnik.

Medics Patricia St. Denis, Craig MacInnes, Amanda Walkowiak and Virginia Warner came to the officer's defense on the night he was stabbed Dec. 29, 2009 outside Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus.

They told a news conference Thursday they had to make the most difficult decision of their careers — help the dying officer or restrain Gregson.

They wrestled the attacker away from the bleeding officer and handcuffed him as doctors tried to save his life, according to CTV.

"Everything really happened extremely quickly, we had to disarm him instead of help Eric," St. Denis told the news conference.

"We just did what we did and Eric is the true hero for us," Walkowiak told reporters. "We're trained to help people and it's very difficult not being able to do that and making that choice."

The court was told MacInnes pulled Gregson off the officer, who struggled to his feet. Before staggering into the hospital, Czapnik mouthed the words: "Thank you," according to The Edmonton Journal.

"That's an extremely emotional memory, so I don't want to go into it too much," St. Denis said when asked about that moment.

"He just mouthed it. That just shows the type of man he was."

All four medics are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, with one unable to return to work as a paramedic, CTV reported.

A Victim Impact Statement read to the court detailed the difficulties they have faced since the tragedy:

The traumatic events that unfolded on Dec 29th, 2009 were horrific, unfortunate and at times incomprehensible. The impact of these events has affected each one of us differently and will be something that we will live with forever.

We were different people before the event and it has changed each one of us in different ways.

All four of us have been impacted from that terrible night. After witnessing the murder of Eric Czapnik, a true hero, we have suffered emotionally and this has left us with varying degrees of post traumatic stress disorder.

Occurrences of nightmares and flashbacks have some of us reliving the traumatic event over and over, while others are fighting health problems, and changes in relationships.

Work functioning has tremendously been affected, so much so, that some of us have not returned to work and no one will never work as a paramedic again.
Gregson's actions left us with no choice but to disarm and restrain him, instead of being able to help Eric further, leaving some of us with a terrible feeling of guilt.

As paramedics we are trained to help people, having to watch and feel a man die in your own hands has left an unimaginable impact.

Personally and professionally we continue to recover from the events of December 29, 2009.

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