Midland Councillor Jim DownerDerek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Coun. Jim Downer was conscious leaving Midland council chambers last night according to Fire Chief Richard Renaud, and a large amount of praise was given to Coun. Sheldon East who responded immediately to the situation.

During the regular meeting of Midland council on Wednesday, Downer had concluded his thoughts regarding the agenda item of Midland Bay Landing. Roughly a minute later, he slumped forward in his seat and appeared unconscious.

Coun. Sheldon East is seated to Downer’s immediate right at the council table, and he was the first to attend to Downer before anyone else could react.

Renaud, who by happenstance was in council chambers that evening, went over to assist. 911 was called, CPR was started, and the defibrillator applied. Midland firefighters, OPP officers and Simcoe County Paramedics responded quickly to town hall.

“Councillor Downer regained consciousness after what appears to be his internal defibrillator went off,” Renaud said in a statement issued by the town. “Councillor Downer was conscious when he left town hall. He was transported by Simcoe County Paramedics to Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland.”

Mayor Bill Gordon praised East’s quick response during a conversation with MidlandToday shortly after the incident.

“I’ve got to call out East… he was immediately on doing CPR. And as absolute luck would have it – and we never have this – we had our new fire chief in the council chambers and he grabbed the defibrillator and immediately applied that;” said Gordon.

“You couldn’t have had better first responder presence. I guess the only thing better than this would be in the hospital at the moment. Absolute credit to Coun. East and all the staff that immediately sprung into action and very likely may have saved his life,” Gordon said.

The issued statement continued with Renaud, who is also director of emergency services for Midland and Penetanguishene, also commending East for his composure and actions during the unexpected moment.

“The quick actions of councillor East along with the rapid response by all three emergency services gave councillor Downer a fighting chance. Councillor East not only recognized that councillor Downer was in distress, he also actively performed CPR while the public access defibrillator (AED) was being applied.” said Renaud.

“His actions, along with the rapid response by firefighters, police and paramedics all contributed to this positive outcome. I also want to thank the Town of Midland for having a defibrillator available at town hall. The town’s commitment to public safety is obvious and should be commended.”

Fire Chief Richard Renaud wished to remind the public of the importance of learning first aid, CPR and how to use an defibrillator.

“During cardiac arrests, seconds count. Rapid by-standard CPR along with the application of a public access defibrillator can make a big difference in patient outcomes,” he added.

Relating to municipal procedure during the council session, customer experience manager Angela Grenier informed MidlandToday that under section 9.18 of the procedural bylaw which allows a meeting to be adjourned in the case of an emergency, “all resolutions that were passed last night are deemed adopted and no further procedural action is required.

“The remaining agenda items from last night will be integrated into the agenda for the next regular council meeting on April 12,” Grenier added. “That agenda will require that the Midland Bay Landing item debate commence with the deferral motion that was on the floor when the medical emergency occurred.”

The discussion was centered around a newly proposed plan for Midland Bay Landing by Mayor Gordon and Deputy Mayor Jack Contin which was presented to council as a motion for which notice was given.

While verbal context was provided regarding the background and reasoning for introducing the proposal at the council meeting, some members of council including Downer – a former mayor of Midland – had expressed disappointment that other members of council had to learn of the plan through a MidlandToday article instead of being told first-hand or being given a thorough staff report.

“I have the feeling that seven councillors were left out of the fray here on this and that the deputy mayor and mayor acted on their own,” said Downer.

“I’d like to know how much money went down the drain from the last developer who was ready to put shovels in the ground. And what about the public consultation that you promised the people when you were campaigning, about ‘pause and wait’? If we’re going to pause and wait, I think we should have the public consultation before we do anything else. Because I think the people of the municipality are feeling jerked around; I know I feel like I’m being jerked around,” Downer concluded.

East made a motion to defer the agenda item until public consultation could occur, and the emergency occurred shortly thereafter.

Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be attended virtually through Zoom by contacting the clerk’s department of Midland town hall for a link to the meeting.

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 23, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   MidlandToday.ca   Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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