Mom speaks out after son dies from overdose on Calgary CTrain
Chase McInnes was one of 43 people who overdosed on either a CTrain or LRT platform last year
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It’s unclear how long Chase McInnes was riding the CTrain before he died.
The 20-year-old was hunched over, apparently asleep, when a woman got on a train at city hall at approximately 9 p.m. on the night of July 22, 2017.
But when the train pulled in to 69th Street Station at the end of the line, McInnes – just four days shy of his 21st birthday – didn’t get off the train with the other passengers.
“I just kept trying to wake him up. I have no idea who he is and was just trying to help the driver and him,” said the anonymous woman’s statement in the police report, which Metro obtained a copy of.
McInnes was one of 43 people who overdosed on either a CTrain or LRT platform in this city last year – an average of four a month – according to data from Calgary Transit.
The police report details that the train operator called dispatch for help right away — but neither he nor the witness knew how to do CPR.
So they waited for approximately seven minutes until two peace officers arrived at 10 p.m. and began performing CPR.
The Calgary Fire Department arrived at the station next, at 10:05 p.m., and gave McInnes two doses of nasal naloxone (an opioid overdose-reversing agent) – and continued CPR for 25 minutes.
“Which had no effect,” a peace officer’s witness statement said, referring to the naloxone.
Chylo Michael, McInnes’ mother, told Metro she often thinks about whether anyone comforted her son, who she says made friends easily and was known for his infectious laugh, while they were waiting for help.
She also wonders if starting CPR earlier would have made a difference.
"I’m so grateful that (the train operator and the witness) were there, but so broken that it took so long for CPR,” Michael said. “He didn't stand a chance.”
She wants all Calgary Transit operators to be able to administer CPR in case of an overdose, and encouraged passengers to lookout for the people on their commute.
“I spent Chase's 21st birthday at the funeral home making arrangements,” Michael said. “If I can spare even one mother the pain, it will help mine.”
Drug overdoses are responsible for nearly two deaths every day in Alberta.
In the first nine months of 2017, 482 people died in this province from opioid-related overdoses – 462 were confirmed to have had fentanyl in their system.
All 100 Calgary Transit peace officers began carrying nasal naloxone with them in late November 2017, in addition to firefighters, police and EMS.
Brian Whitelaw, Calgary Transit’s superintendent of public safety, said his officers – who are also all trained to perform CPR – have used the nasal spray six times since.
There are no plans to mandate CTrain or bus drivers receive CPR training at this time, according to Whitelaw, who explained the standard procedure for operators is to call for medical help as quickly as possible.
“(Operators) call into the system right away, and EMS can be dispatched immediately – and my personnel are many times right there and can administer CPR,” he said, adding most of the people who overdosed in transit last year were revived on-scene.
Whitelaw said anyone witnessing a medical emergency shouldn’t hesitate to alert the train or bus operator en-route, or use the call-for-help intercoms on station platforms.
“We would want them to activate the on-board notification systems that go right to the operator, and they’ll handle that (emergency responder) notification process,” Whitelaw said.
“But getting medical help as quick as possible is the critical piece – so if it’s a medical emergency and somebody’s in distress, certainly, also call 911.”
Michael said she's grateful to the anonymous woman who tried to help her son that night.
“I've wondered ever since – who was the person that didn't look away. That cared enough to report an unresponsive male," she said.
"Time often helps minimize the pain of grief, but not with a child. I miss him more everyday."