YVR official relived Dziekanski decision many times
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009 2:40PM PST
VANCOUVER - An official who decided not to call the Vancouver airport's own firefighters as Robert Dziekanski lay dying after being stunned with an RCMP Taser said he considered it a police matter, not a medical one, because he believed at the time that Tasers were safe.
Robert Ginter, who was at the scene when RCMP officers confronted Dziekanski in the early morning of Oct. 14, 2007, didn't say how he feels about the shock weapons now.
It was Ginter who made the decision not to call the Vancouver airport's own firefighters as Dziekanski lay dying on the floor of the international terminal after being stunned.
He has said he didn't call the airport's emergency response services because didn't want to draw from resources that could be needed elsewhere.
In fact, when an airport operations officer asked him whether to notify the unit, he instructed her not to.
But Ginter said Wednesday that had second thoughts when he learned the Polish man was unconscious.
"You realized that Mr. Dziekanski was unconscious, what was your first thought?" the airport's lawyer, Dwight Stewart, asked Ginter.
"Holy shit," Ginter replied. "Because of the call I made previously about not having ERS respond."
Despite his concerns, Ginter still didn't call the airport's firefighters, instead waiting for members of the Richmond Fire Department, which were based much farther away from the airport.
He then headed outside the airport to meet the Richmond firefighters and after about a minute, he felt a "great sense of relief" when he heard the blare of sirens drawing closer.
By the time firefighters reached Dziekanski, he wasn't breathing, had no pulse and the fire captain on duty has told the inquiry he believed Dziekanski was already dead.
Ginter never explained what authority he had to break a standing order, but he said he was still upset with what happened.
"I've relived this many a time," he said.
It wasn't the only protocol that Ginter ignored. He didn't bring an automated external defibrillator to the scene, which he was required to do for a high-priority medical emergency.
Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Dziekanski's mother, asked Ginter if protocols were in place so they'd be followed in an emergency to ensure staff didn't panic.
But he also said the Richmond Fire Department and the airport's emergency response unit take about the same time to get to the airport, despite testimony from several firefighters that the airport's team is almost always there first.
"Just about all the time, they're ahead of us," Glen Cameron, one of the Richmond firefighters, told the inquiry Wednesday.
Cameron said the only time his team would arrive before the airport's is if he was already at the airport, or the emergency response team was busy with another call. Neither was the case that night.
The inquiry has heard that Ginter had a dispute with the airport team's supervisor a few hours earlier.
He had asked the unit's supervisor, Andrew Caldwell, to repair a pot hole on the airport runway, but Caldwell refused.
Ginter said he was frustrated and went to the fire hall to talk with Caldwell, who agreed the pot hole would be fixed the following morning.
But Ginter has insisted the dispute didn't affect his decision about who would respond.