Son lacked oxygen for 8 1/2 minutes after paramedics took over: father at trial

LETHBRIDGE — A father on trial in his son’s death suggested Wednesday that he and his wife would have been better off going directly to hospital rather than handing the child over to an ambulance.

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to their boy Ezekiel in 2012. The 19-month-old died of bacterial meningitis seven years ago.

His parents had treated him with herbal and alternative remedies before they sought medical attention.

Court has heard the couple made two 911 calls on March 13, 2012. The first was when Ezekiel had stopped breathing, but he seemed to recover, so David Stephan turned down an offer for an ambulance.

Within the hour, the Stephans were on the phone with a dispatcher again as they drove from their southern Alberta home near Glenwood to meet an ambulance on the highway.

David Stephan, who is representing himself in court, spent hours cross-examining paramedic Ken Cherniawsky, who met the Stephans while they were on the way to the nearest hospital in Cardston.

Cherniawsky testified Tuesday that the ambulance wasn’t properly equipped with either the right-sized valve mask or endotracheal tube for a patient of Ezekiel’s age.

“Yesterday it was identified it was approximately 8 1/2 minutes without oxygen whatsoever. No chest rise. No chest fall. Correct?” Stephan asked Wednesday.

“Yes,” Cherniawsky replied.

“Would it have been better to have just kept on driving to hospital with Collet doing the CPR than for him to end up in an ambulance and go 8 1/2 minutes without oxygen?” said Stephan.

“No. If a patient, regardless of whether it’s a pediatric or an adult, if they’re in cardiac arrest, the evidence-based, definitive treatment which proves to have the most success is defibrillation … and the ambulance had the equipment available,” said Cherniawsky.

He said there was no chance of it working on the toddler because he had already flatlined.

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