In a surprising turn­around, Toronto has asked Ontario’s Ministry of Health to investigate the EMS response to the 9-1-1 call regarding Jim Hearst.

On Tuesday, Toronto Emergency Medical Services chief Bruce Farr said his service would be conducting an internal review of the June 25 call and EMS response at Hearst’s Alexander Street apartment building.

But in a brief statement Thursday the city said the province will now be handling the probe. City officials would not say why the province was suddenly called in.

Ministry spokesperson David Jensen said the investigation will explore all matters relating to the EMS response, and a final report will be made to the city.

He pointed out the ministry conducts about 200 investigations a year on ambulance services across the province, 20 per cent of them at the request of municipalities.

In the Toronto case, witnesses say it took at least 30 minutes for EMS to attend to Hearst despite three, perhaps four 9-1-1 calls. He fell and hit his head before or after his heart attack.

The delay sparked concerns over reduced EMS staffing during the city workers’ strike. Under an essential services agreement EMS is running at 75 per cent staffing. But Farr said the response time was not related to the labour disruption.

He said the paramedics attended the scene within acceptable response times — nine minutes in this case — but waited outside the building for police to arrive because they had “health and safety” concerns.