03/22/2016 12:30 EDT | Updated 03/22/2016 12:59 EDT

Ezekiel Stephan's Ambulance Was Unequipped To Save His Life: Paramedic

David Rossiter/CP

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A paramedic says the ambulance in southern Alberta that picked up a toddler who'd stopped breathing didn't have the proper equipment to save his life.

Kenneth Cherniawsky, who works for Alberta Health Services, testified Monday the ambulance that was rushing Ezekial Stephan to Cardston had a bag valve mask for supplying oxygen that was too big for a small child.

He said an endotracheal tube managed to provide the child with some oxygen, but it was only partially effective because tube was also the wrong size.

Cherniawsky said by that time 18-month-old Ezekiel had been without oxygen for more than eight minutes.

Parents have pleaded not guilty

The toddler's parents, David and Collet Stephan, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for Ezekiel, who died of bacterial meningitis on March 13, 2012.

Meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, can be life-threatening if not treated right away with antibiotics.

The trial has been told that the boy had been sick for about 2 1/2 weeks and his parents thought he had croup. They treated him with natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion.

ezekiel stephan Ezekiel Stephan died in 2012. (Photo: Facebook/Prayers for Ezekiel)

Naturopath Tracey Tannis testified last week that she told her employee to tell Collet Stepan to take Ezekiel to a hospital immediately when she called her Lethbridge clinic in March 2012.

Tannis said she never met Ezekial's mom, although she visited the clinic later in the day and picked up some echinacea for the boy.

Court has heard little Ezekiel stopped breathing soon after that. After being taken to Cardston hospital, he was rushed to a Calgary hospital, where he died a week later.

Equipment removed due to miscommunication

Cherniawsky told the jury that before Alberta Health Services took over local ambulance services, the ambulance had all the proper equipment. But in anticipation of AHS taking over, and through some miscommunication, he said much of the equipment was removed.

He also said it was never replaced after AHS took over even though its own protocols required it and health officials knew about the shortfall.

Cherniawsky requested the equipment several times, but within a week of the incident with Ezekial, the ambulance got all the missing equipment.

(Lethbridge Herald)

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