Paramedics Commended for bravery

Submitted byJason Giesbrecht

Four Ottawa paramedics who intervened in the fatal stabbing of a police officer are being honoured with an award for bravery.

Craig McInnes, Patricia St. Denis, Amanda Walkowiak and Virginia Warner will receive the N.H. McNally Award for Bravery on Thursday night at the annual conference of the Association of Municipal Emergency Medical Services of Ontario in Huntsville.

The four paramedics are being commended for trying to save the life of Ottawa police Const. Ireneuz (Eric) Czapnik after he was stabbed while on duty last December. The paramedics also disarmed and subdued his attacker.

John Prno, the director of Emergency Medical Services in the Waterloo Region and chair of the provincial awards committee, said the four took a huge risk in trying to help Czapnik.

“I mean, these are people that are unarmed, not trained to take this type of action,” he said.

“They’re basically trained to move away from a incident like this, to back away to safety, and here are four individuals … who, without regard for their own safety, obviously saw a situation that needed something to be done and took those actions and obviously should be commended for it.”

Czapnik was stabbed to death on Dec. 29, 2009, outside the civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital, where he had been sitting in his cruiser taking notes.

Kevin Gregson, a suspended RCMP officer from Saskatchewan, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Widow grateful

Prno said paramedics throughout the province were “shocked to hear about the incident.”

“I’d have to say that everybody was really pleasantly surprised of the actions of the four paramedics.”

Ottawa police unveiled a memorial plaque Saturday in honour of Const. Czapnik, who was killed in the line of duty. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)
Anthony Di Monte, the chief of Ottawa’s Paramedic Service, commended his paramedics.

“When we see our members doing something so dramatically and we’re all very proud, it does have a sense of camaraderie and morale, absolutely.”

Czapnik’s widow, Anna Korutowska, is thankful the paramedics intervened and tried to save her husband’s life.

“I thought they should be getting [awards]. I’m actually quite pleased that it’s [happened] that fast,” she said.

“I’m very, very happy that they’re being recognized and I want to congratulate them and praise them on their bravery.”

Korutowska is not allowed to communicate directly with the four paramedics because of their involvement with Czapnik’s alleged attacker. However, she would like to sit down with the paramedics eventually and hear about her husband’s final moments.

The N.H. McNally Award is the highest award for bravery an Ontario paramedic can receive. All four Ottawa paramedics will be in Huntsville for the awards ceremony on Thursday.

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