TORONTO, June 15, 2016 /CNW/ - The crew who perished in a fatal 2013 helicopter crash in Moosonee, ON was failed by Ornge, said Unifor, the union representing advanced and critical care flight paramedics.
"We do not believe that safety was a priority for Ornge at the time of the crash, we do not believe safety is a priority now," said Chuck Telky, Unifor Unit Chair, Ornge Paramedics. "The safety culture at Ornge is the bare-minimum, to get the job done first and foremost, and that still exists. We do not believe cultural change, substantive change, is possible while the same management team that allowed these conditions to exist in 2013 remains today."
Paramedics Chris Snowball, 38 and Dustin Dagenais, 34, both husbands and fathers, died alongside the pilots in the incident. They were members of Unifor Local 2002.
A damning report by The Transport Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that the flight crew were not properly trained to fly in night-time conditions and that organizational, regulatory and oversight deficiencies led to the fatal crash.
"This accident goes beyond the actions of a single flight crew," said TSB Chair Kathy Fox. "Ornge RW did not have sufficient experienced resources in place to effectively manage safety."
Unifor says that Ornge has been slow to act on improved safety protocols, and that three-years after the fatal crash crews still do not have access to advanced safety training and equipment such as night-vision goggles.
"Ornge continues to respond to systemic issues that led to the last crash, they are not working proactively to prevent the next one," said Unifor Director of Health Care Corey Vermey. "Oversight of Ornge by the Province has been almost non-existent; it's time for the Wynne government to step up to protect pilots, paramedics and patients."
Unifor National and workplace representatives look forward to the implementation of the TSB recommendations and will continue to work diligently with Ornge to ensure the health and safety of paramedics during flights. Safety is – and will always be – of paramount concern. We owe a tremendous obligation in memory of our brothers who lost their lives in this tragedy to ensure that no more lives are lost.
For further information: please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Kathleen O'Keefe at Kathleen.OKeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell)