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South Slave

RCMP say breathalyzing Hay River ambulance driver was mistake


An ambulance taking part in a medevac should not have been stopped and its driver breathalyzed on the weekend, RCMP in the Northwest Territories said on Tuesday.

Police were operating a holiday-season check stop in Hay River when the ambulance, carrying a medevac flight crew, passed by late in the evening of Saturday, December 18.

Despite the ambulance being actively engaged in a medevac, officers stopped and breathalyzed the driver before allowing the vehicle to continue.

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Ordinarily, ambulance personnel expect to be waved through such check stops if they are responding to a call.

Reached on Monday, Hay River senior administrator Glenn Smith confirmed by email that an ambulance had entered a police check stop.

“On-call driver and attendees were not under the influence,” Smith wrote.

On Tuesday, Barry LaRocque – the officer in charge of RCMP’s NWT south district – said officers had been trying to apply the rules equally but maybe, in this instance, “did not use enough discretion.”

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“We probably could rethink that one,” LaRocque said by phone.

“We’ve had a conversation with our people. Certainly we would look at that one again and make sure we’re using appropriate judgement.”

He added there was “certainly no concern with the ambulance driver at all.”

It’s not clear whether the stop had any operational impact on the medevac that was under way.

RCMP expect to roll out a broader campaign against drinking and driving in the coming days as the holiday season begins.

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