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Ornge employee quit in disgust after patient died: investigation

June 6, 2012, Toronto - A former paramedic with Ornge says he quit Ontario's troubled air ambulance service in disgust in 2009 after the death of a teenager from northwestern Ontario.


June 6, 2012
By The Canadian Press

Trevor Kidd says had the girl had a hope for survival, Ornge "robbed'' her of that chance by not properly staffing their aircraft or sending them in a timely manner.

The whistleblower says he raised red flags about Ornge with journalists and others, but no one believed him because of Ornge's "Mother Teresa'' image.

Kidd's father, the mayor of Temiskaming Shores, even talked to former Liberal MPP David Ramsay in 2009 and other officials in the Health Ministry about the problems at Ornge.

Kidd says front-line workers at Ornge are leaving "in droves'' because they're unhappy with how Ornge is run.

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His testimony before the legislative committee comes in the wake of confidential documents showing the government investigated 26 deaths and 145 incidents involving Ornge since 2007.

Forty of the investigations were opened this year — after the government installed new leadership at Ornge.

In some cases, Ornge wasn't able to respond to calls because there were no paramedics on duty.

Liberal backbencher David Zimmer accused Kidd of being "selfish'' by refusing to disclose the names of Ornge employees who have information about the problems at the organization.

"When you're faced with this choice between doing what's best for the air ambulance service and fixing it and getting to the bottom of it, and yet you don't want to share some of that confidential information and confidential names who might help us with that, and you opt to protect your source,'' Zimmer said.

"Do you think that's a bit selfish of you?''

Kidd said he didn't want to reveal the names because many Ornge employees are still afraid that their employer will retaliate if they come forward.

"I don't feel that I'm in a position to put forward people's names who brought me information at risk to themselves,'' he said.

"Some people went against their spouses to provide information because they felt that information needed to get out there. But they knew they were putting their career at risk.''

Kidd said if the government provides real whistleblower protection to Ornge employees, they will come forward without fear of retribution.

"And their careers trump the safety of Ontarians … they'd rather protect their careers than help us root out the causes of difficulties at Ornge?'' Zimmer said.

Health Minister Deb Matthews also called on the Opposition to reveal any information they have about Ornge that's been kept under wraps.

But Tory Frank Klees told the legislature that the reason his party has the information instead of the government is because no one trusts the Liberals to do anything about it.

Ornge, which is under a criminal probe, has been rocked for months by allegations about questionable business deals, high executive salaries and whether public money was used for personal gain.

Auditor general Jim McCarter has criticized the government for failing to oversee Ornge, despite giving it $730 million over five years and allowing it to borrow another $300 million.