MORRISBURG — When police officers rushed to administer CPR to a drowned man who was pulled from the St. Lawrence River in Morrisburg on Friday night, they arrived at the waterfront only to be scolded for speeding by a local individual possibly unaware of the dire circumstances unfolding at that moment, according to SD&G OPP Const. Tylor Copeland.
“There was one individual … that came over to the scene and voiced his displeasure at our rate of speed,” the constable confirmed for Nation Valley News, adding the victim’s brother and fiancee were both in attendance at that moment as well.
“CPR was in progress, and saving a life is our number one priority, and we were ahead of the paramedics,” explained Copeland, who personally arrived third on scene — out of several cruisers that responded. Bystanders also helped out, he said.
The 43-year-old patient didn’t make it, however, and was ultimately declared deceased at the scene. Copeland said the man was a recent resident of North Dundas who had moved to the area from Prince Edward Island. His name will not be released by the detachment, according to the constable, who assisted his comrades with chest compressions. Officers also used one of their defibrillators as they attempted to revive the man before paramedics arrived.
Police are often the first on scene during a medical call. They deploy their CPR training and their defibrillators — heart-zapping devices that only paramedics would have carried 15 years ago — when required. Arriving quickly can be key to preventing loss of life in the “complex array” of calls officers are expected to respond to at a moment’s notice.
Copeland confirmed that officers are permitted to exceed the speed limit with their emergency lights on, when responding to a “life and death” call such as the one in Morrisburg, adding that each officer would have been “extra aware” of their surroundings as they entered the village. “Each situation kind of determines your speed and the officer’s speed…. It’s kind of a situation by situation thing,” he observed, estimating his own speed through Morrisburg at 80 km/h that evening. “And depending on the urgency of the call our speeds may increase. That’s what we’re trained for,” said Copeland.
He also pointed out that officers must exercise their best judgment, are not allowed to drive recklessly and are held accountable for their speeds should something go wrong in the process of responding to an emergency. Cruisers are also tracked in real time with GPS technology, allowing the SD&G OPP to know the location and speed of each of their vehicles at any given time, he pointed out.
The man who died in Morrisburg had been swimming at the smaller docks east of the main Morrisburg dock, according to Copeland. “On his way back in, he went into distress, and a bystander jumped in and scooped him out.”