Bicycle accident in Gatineau Park:
a cyclist is taken care of by emergency services after a 90-minute wait
On May 6, Philippe Reynolds, a resident of Cantley and a regular on the trails, went off the road and fell violently. One of his bicycle shoes, which allows a better grip on the pedals, came off and caused Mr. Reynolds' accident: a concussion, several fractures and a collapsed lung are the injuries he suffered.
A photo taken at the scene by his wife, Ms. Melanie Malouin, shows her spouse on the ground, with his head on someone's lap, wrapped in a thermal blanket. The suffering of Mr. Reynolds, at that moment, was unfortunately prolonged: it took more than an hour for emergency and rescue transports to get to the scene. Eventually, after a 90-minute wait, the ambulance was able to reach Mr. Reynolds and transport him to the Hull hospital, where he remains to this day.
This turn of events is unfortunate and, on the face of it, accidental. The gate that allows or denies vehicles access to the upper portion of the park was closed and locked at the time of the incident. As a result of a miscommunication between NCC employees and the paramedics, the ambulance attendants had to wait at the gate for someone to come and open it for them.
The lack of precise procedures in the case of accidents and the lack of communication between the NCC and the emergency services are questioned by Mélanie Malouin, who does not understand the 1.5 hour delay between her husband's accident and his care by the paramedics. Although the father's life is out of danger, the recovery of Mr. Reynolds looks difficult: "Philippe is still hospitalized at the hospital in Hull since May 6. We hope to be released soon. He had surgery on his collarbone last Friday. His fractures are still causing him a lot of pain," his wife, Mrs. Malouin, told the Bulletin.
The National Capital Commission (NCC), a well-known player involved in the conservation of the region's natural environments, is the organization responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and proper operation of hiking trails and roads in Gatineau Park, as well as the safety of park users.
Also, since 2020 and the pandemic context, the NCC has put in place a pilot project to modify the accessibility schedules of the various sites in Gatineau Park. This initiative, which allows greater freedom for cyclists and walkers, restricts the circulation of cars and motorcycles in the park, which can circulate freely on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, after 1 pm and until 30 minutes after sunset.
This explains the absence of cars on the day of Mr. Reynolds' accident, and the fact that a gate restricting motorized access to the park was in place. Following a request for comment from the Bulletin, the NCC indicated that "Officers from the NCC response team were at the cyclist's side shortly after learning of the call to the MRC emergency service. The officers administered first aid to the injured person and remained at his side until the ambulance arrived.
" The communications department also reports that "an equipment failure at the P3 parking lot gate caused a delay for ambulance attendants to access the parkways. The NCC will be checking all opening devices on a regular basis to ensure that everything is in place and working."
A petition against the NCC's schedule, which was deemed discriminatory for people with reduced mobility, disabilities or who simply cannot walk or bike several kilometres (such as seniors and children), and which predates Reynolds' accident, has been circulating on social networks since Gatineau Park reopened for the summer season. The petition has already accumulated nearly 5,000 signatures since its creation, via the online platform Change.org.
For the summer of 2022, the National Capital Commission plans to implement a free shuttle service, which will operate on weekends and whose purpose is to serve the attractions as well as the different sectors of the park.
Photo credit: Sonia Roy
Photo caption: The gate of the P3 parking lot, at the entrance of Gatineau Park