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2014-08-14 at 09:27

VICE Canada story paints bloody picture of Thunder Bay

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By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

A recent online magazine article featuring this area’s paramedics paints a bleak and graphic picture of the city landscape our first responders traverse day-to-day.

A reporter writing for VICE Canada published the article titled One Night with Paramedics in Canada’s Former Murder Capital. In the piece the reporter follows a number of Superior North EMS Paramedics as they respond to a number of calls.

“On any given evening, under the cover of night, the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario is drunk on cheap beer, high on Oxys, and struggles to bear the burden of having the worst homicide rate among any major Canadian city,” writes local author Michael Robinson.

“Picking up the pieces are Superior North EMS paramedics, who deliver life-saving medical care on the front-lines of the trauma, trying their best to delineate between the dying and the dead."

The author’s observations show a bloody night for paramedics who are forced to pick up the pieces after a violent and fatal incident.

Despite those observations, Superior North EMS Chief Norm Gale says that while it is true paramedics deal with violent circumstances, the bloody night detailed in the VICE Canada story shows a small snapshot of what his paramedics deal with.

Calls dealing with violent incidents make up a small percentage of the 25,000 emergencies area paramedics respond to each year.

"There's so much more to the people that work here," he said in reaction to the VICE Canada story.

But Gale wouldn’t comment on the tone of the article nor any specific observations made by the author. Instead Gale said the article simply “is what it is.”


 


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Comments

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ThunderBayFullOfCrime says:
I'm glad someone finally will call a spade a spade. Bringing light to the issues in Thunder Bay instead of sweeping them under the rug, may bring change.
8/14/2014 9:37:15 AM
boofer69 says:
The system had to change that enables this type of drunken unemployed behaviour before there will be any improvement.
8/14/2014 9:40:15 AM
Cletus Van Damme says:
Quick mister Mayor - tell us it's all a lie!!
8/14/2014 10:27:39 AM
smartguy83 says:
http://tbnewswatch.com/news/353044/Social-agenda

I'd have to say based on this that Mayor is well aware of the issues. However, these serious issues are not exactly a daily occurrence. There is a small amount of people in this city who frequently require EMS assistance and result in the high numbers in this city. The Mayor, EMS and the police are all aware of this and appear to all agree it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

That being said the city can't only focus on one issue. There are many others worthy of focus beyond spending all our time on the poor, substance abusers and other social issues.
8/14/2014 1:08:09 PM
progress now says:
Of note:

"That being said the city can't only focus on one issue. There are many others worthy of focus beyond spending all our time on the poor, substance abusers and other social issues."

Holy cow!

Can you name one?

Get out your Dickens folks, we are living those times again.

Are there no work houses? Are there no prisons?

Respectfully, you would make Ebineezer Scrooge blush.

8/14/2014 7:30:45 PM
thisismyotheraccount says:
If this is a kudos to our first responders, then good on Vice.

If this is a hit towards Thunder Bay, well then, get in line.
8/14/2014 10:33:15 AM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
The truth hurts. Unlike those in power who try to paint a rosie picture, for example, " the city is booming". Reality does eventually set in.
8/14/2014 11:02:52 AM
jamisuplate says:
Time for Thunder Bay citizens to suck it up. Just like any major city in Canada or the US, Thunder Bay has its violence, crime, its bad neighbourhoods, leaders who are trying to fix the problem and frontline workers bandaging the bloodloss. Whether it's Detroit, Winnipeg, Toronto or Calgary there is crime. There always will be. As a citizen of a few major cities over my time, I learned there are neighbourhoods you stay away from, other hoods where you don't go out at night and you learn to not be as trusting with other human beings. It's a way of life, get used to it. Love your family, your home and your city yes but be aware and be careful and either get out there to try to make things better or build a wall around your world.
8/14/2014 11:13:15 AM
anarnosti says:
You really cant compare apples and oranges..you want facts? Thunder Bay has had 6 murders so far this year with a population of only 109,000... yet Calgary has 22 murders with a population of over a million... so simple math.. if Thunder Bay was to have a population of over a million they would be at roughly 50-55 murders so far this year... that is by far way more than any MAJOR city (which tbay is not).
8/14/2014 6:21:03 PM
djs says:
“On any given evening, under the cover of night, the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario is drunk on cheap beer, high on Oxys, and struggles to bear the burden of having the worst homicide rate among any major Canadian city,” This quote could apply to almost any larger city in Canada. It is the "per capita" rates that makes this city look so bad, but the EMS paramedics, the police and the fire fighters in other cities would tell a similar story about what happens after dark. This is not unusual; this is not rare; this is not news. It is a fact of life that most of us never have to see or deal with because we are safe in our houses by 11 p.m., we don't hang out in the "bad parts" of town, we don't associate with the homeless, the down and out, the criminal element, the ones most cities want to deny exist. We wear our rose-coloured glasses and go "tsk tsk" when we read these kinds of stories.
8/14/2014 11:17:03 AM
Gord says:
Yup, riding along with first responders is a good way to paint an accurate picture of the City (Sarcasm). Besides, this was probably some of the worst writing I have ever read. It read like one of those Film Noir movies.
8/14/2014 11:44:38 AM
imbroglio says:
I found the article to be quite sensationalistic.
Also, the writer lost all credibility when I read "fly his ambulance along the Harbourview Expressway". At least get the names of the roads correct!
8/14/2014 12:35:39 PM
tbay87 says:
The story did a good job showing some of the tough parts of a paramedic's job and was likely truthful. But it was also sensationalist and made Thunder Bay seem like Detroit. Thunder Bay certainly has major addiction issues and there are areas I'd prefer to avoid at night; but the article painted a picture of a city you wouldn't want to visit; and that's simply not true. Of all the violent crimes in the media, almost all are between gangs, addicts, or those who know each other. Even the armed robberies - while too common and no doubt traumatizing to the workers - aren't escalating to actual violence.
8/14/2014 12:37:21 PM
hoynthehoy says:
Seems like Mr. Gale is downplaying the number of dangerously violent calls that paramedics deal with in this city. Id like to see some actual stats vs whats simply been reported in the media. Speaking to some first responders id say i have to agree, It is what it is. Getting worse. Interesting read all the same.
8/14/2014 1:30:44 PM
dman31029 says:
What would he have to gain from downplaying it? You'd think if anything he'd make it sound like a bigger deal than it actually is.
8/14/2014 1:50:56 PM
spazz says:
Vice is not known for having upbeat articles. If it wasn't written in a sensationalist way it wouldn't have gotten published. I do enjoy the content there and have read Gavin McInnes book as well. Having said that though it's hardly the place to look for an unbiased look at both sides of a story.
8/14/2014 2:13:22 PM
zero00 says:
Having been a paramedic in a major city, things are no different in Thunder Bay than anywhere else. The only difference is the isolation of the city.
8/14/2014 2:17:54 PM
jonthunder says:
In a related articles on this site, I believe the Mayor and Council were issuing renewed and urgent pleas for help from the Ontario government and others. It is good they are not sticking their heads in the sand. We have a very serious problem here that is huge drain on city resources,the community at large, families and individuals; and if anything it appears to be getting worse. It is time to all start working together instead of playing the unproductive blame others approach. Touching up a few parks is not going to address these profound issues.
8/14/2014 2:23:19 PM
Tannoy says:
The article is completely sensationalized, it reads more like the script for the movie "Bringing out the dead".

To those complaining about the police not doing enough to stop violent crimes in this city, what are they supposed to do? Violent crimes are crimes of passion and opportunity. I decide to stab you with that knife in the kitchen, what are the cops going to do? They can catch me after the fact but they cant prevent it at the time. Thunder bay's crime rate has decreased!!! The acts of a few DO NOT paint the picture for an entire community! Unfortunately the complainers dwell on these incidents and spread negativity. Try being positive about your city for once! There is a lot of good here, look around and take off your blinders.
8/14/2014 2:26:43 PM
glock9 says:
You gotta buy good running shoes just to walk home from work in this city.
8/14/2014 4:28:12 PM
Alsa says:
Where do you work?! Our city has problems, but it's not common to hear of people being robbed or attacked on their way to or from work. Most people seem comfortable going to work, going to a restaurant or store, or doing whatever they need to do.

I mean, I guess only a small minority of people actually walk to work. That one man was killed outside city hall, but I thought it was the middle of the night, and I don't think he was going to work.

People with mental health and addiction issues, or people in abusive relationships, are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the general population walking around.
8/15/2014 10:52:27 AM
Blister-foot says:
I get off work at 3AM...there are no buses running so I have to walk a few KMs to get home sometimes.
It gets sketchy to say the least. I've had dummies TRY to rob or attack me more than once.
I carry a knife. ...because I have to.
8/17/2014 6:12:43 PM
JMG says:
I'm sure glad the crime rate is going... Homicide up...shoplifting down
8/14/2014 6:02:08 PM
Mike D says:
I'd feel a lot more comfortable crucifying the author of the Vice article if I didn't just read the lead story on your website today about the 8 year old girl and 38 year old man who died during a domestic. Sort of feels ridiculous to sit around here debating the author's portrait of the city, when the cat seems to be totally out of the bag. Is he supposed to pretend that paramedics don't have to see this sort of thing? Will that make everyone feel better? Shame on James Smith and the rest of the TBWatch crew for trying to denigrate someone else's work, while reporting a double murder on the same day to help draw eyeballs on the site. For shame!
8/14/2014 6:22:23 PM
Tannoy says:
Yeah shame on them for doing their job, telling the community about events that have happened. Maybe shame on them next Monday for telling us what council did to eh?
8/15/2014 7:55:20 AM
editor@tbnewswatch.com says:
Just want to clarify that in no way are we trying to pass judgement on this author’s work. An article was written in a major publication focusing on a major subject of interest to this community, and we sought reaction from community members.

We do the same kind of stories when Maclean’s ranks our university, or when MoneySense ranks Canada’s best places to live. In those examples we seek nothing more than community reaction, just as we attempted to do with this VICE story.

The point is never to scold the original author, but rather inform the public that the article exists. We will allow our readers (and I guess VICE readers in this case) to pass judgement on the efforts of this author.

As always, our readers are free to pass judgement and form opinions on the efforts of our own reporting staff. They're in an industry that requires thick skin and can take criticism even when it is harsh.

Cheers!

SP
8/15/2014 10:24:16 AM
Shane Caker says:
Why was a civilian allowed to ride along with a life saving team in the first place? Mr. Gale? At best, nothing would go wrong. At worst? I can't imagine. I work in construction, and there's very few places that a civilian can accompany me. I would think that terms would be much more difficult in a life saving situation. I'm not defending what the civilian saw, but rather why he was allowed on the ride in the first place. I'm free Friday night Mr. Gale. Can I go along for the ride too?
8/14/2014 8:39:51 PM
yqt says:
“On any given evening, under the cover of night, the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario is drunk on cheap beer,......"

Yeah, I'm still trying to find that at The Beer Store. There is no such thing as cheap beer anymore.
8/14/2014 9:21:21 PM
Curious says:
It is sad what the police and paramedics have to deal with on a daily basis. But, it is not all what 1 night in Thunder Bay is truly like. If someone wants to take the view of the entire city, then they should not judge and entire city by one night - shame on them.
8/14/2014 10:59:38 PM
Jack Frost says:
WOW... another BIG Black-Eye for Blunder Bay !!

Just what this badly "broken city" needs to help attract new citizens, business and companies to move here...

I look forward to the movie of this shameless sensationalizing "Vice" DRAMATIZATION fairy tail by local author Michael Robinson !!

Thanks for your very fine contribution to the city, local author Michael Robinson...
8/14/2014 11:58:47 PM
Alsa says:
I think a huge role of EMS in Thunder Bay is to fill the huge gap created by lack of long term care beds and adequate supports (public and private) for senior citizens.

The health care system is very poorly able to address the needs of seniors with dementia. I know one woman with dementia who saved diligently for retirement and pays a lot to stay in a private retirement residence. CCAC visits daily as do extended family members (no living children). Whenever there is any concern about her health, workers from the residence or CCAC call an ambulance. Sometimes it is necessary (e.g. a broken hip) other times not (e.g. a high temperature due to the heat in the apt being on in summer). At the hospital her dementia is rarely acknowledged, so after arriving in pain, waiting a few hours, sometimes she says she's fine, family report her earlier complaints but she is discharged. So, 3 ambulances in 3 weeks before they find kidney stones.

The EMS workers have been attentive every single time.
8/15/2014 10:40:41 AM
ranma says:
Considering the police average 20 calls or more per night for alcohol related issues, I would say it paints a pretty accurate picture.
8/15/2014 11:31:17 AM
varga says:
Has anyone here ever seen a piece like this from ANY OTHER CITY IN THE WORLD!!?? Way to jump to statistical conclusions based on no reference point at all. Crime exists EVERYWHERE drug addiction and alcoholism are not exclusive to Thunder Bay...not even close!! This is a skewed perspective based on one night of activity and a soundbite at best. Instead of being a piece praising the hard work of our paramedics dealing with these issues it is a piece being used to capitalize on the taglines and and sensationalists keywords of mainstream media.
8/15/2014 11:31:45 AM
AndersonSilvasLeg says:
Welcome to Thunder Bay. Where everything is exclusive to us, and we are the center of the universe.
8/15/2014 12:17:13 PM
Jack Frost says:
There are more than enough of cops to deal with this alarming issue, if only city
"CLOWNCIL" and TBPD administration would just shuffle more of them from their warm and comfy offices to patrol duty like REAL cops...

Sadly, Dismal Dead-End Blunder Bay already has the most number of cops per capita in all Canada !!
8/15/2014 2:48:48 PM
Eastender says:
One word, POVERTY. this city has a high level of poverty, slave wage jobs, and spiralling taxes. Mayors, councillors, and administration cannot do much about poverty, or wages, but they certainly can do something about the ever spiralling costs of owning a home in Tundra Bay. But what does Hobbs, council, and administration pursue? A course of action that will guarantee that ever fewer people will be able to afford housing in the future!
Poverty and crime go hand in hand. We need people with vision in council, not big egos.
8/16/2014 9:41:09 AM
sawmillsteve says:
Just walk down May street after dark and see the show between miles and Donald. Embarassing to say the least!
We didn't have this problem 20yrs ago....
8/17/2014 10:38:01 AM
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