Calgary mayor says EMS dispatch is the reason for senior’s death in dog attack

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says the city will be conducting its own independent review into a dog attack that led to the death of a senior but adds EMS dispatch is to blame for the victim’s death.

She made the comments on Thursday afternoon after Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Copping and AHS’ interim president and CEO Mauro Chies all responded to the deadly attack that occurred on Sunday.

Premier Jason Kenney, speaking at an availability at the University of Calgary, responded to the situation, saying that it took too long for EMS to arrive. He also said that AHS must do all they can to find out what happened.

“I understand that AHS and the chief paramedic are doing an investigation, working with the Calgary Police Service,” he said. “They need to get to the bottom of this, find out what went wrong in the communications so that this doesn’t happen in the future.”

Mauro Chies, AHS’ interim president and CEO, said there will be an independent review into the EMS response into the dog attack on June 5. He said it is expected to take “approximately four months.”

“In addition, AHS is conducting a quality assurance review, which is designed to identify areas where the system can be improved and strengthened,” he said.

Chies says that AHS will take steps to improve services wherever shortcomings are found in their system.

“We are taking action. We are adding additional ambulances, including 19 in Calgary and Edmonton. Nine of those will be deployed at the end of this month.”

Chies added he is grateful for all EMS personnel in Alberta.

“To those paramedics and public safety partners who attended Sunday’s scene, thank you for your care.”

On June 5, 86-year-old Betty Ann Williams was mauled by her neighbour’s pitbull-type dogs while she was gardening.

Another resident called 911 for help, but EMS took approximately 30 minutes to arrive to treat Williams’ injuries.

The victim was taken to hospital but she later died.

Authorities say they are still working to determine what happened, but preliminary reports indicated that according to the information provided by the caller, dispatchers classified the situation as “non-life-threatening.”

‘DEEP DIVE’ INTO REPORT

Health Minister Jason Copping added he understood there are concerns being raised about the government’s move to consolidate 911 dispatch services, but that did not impact the nature of the call.

“We did commit to the municipalities to do an independent review of that and that is ongoing.”

Once the full report is available on the dog attack, Copping said they will be conducting a “deep dive” into what went wrong.

“We’ll look to their recommendations and make changes where necessary.”

CALGARY TO LAUNCH SEPARATE INVESTIGATION

While AHS has initiated an independent investigation into the response, the City of Calgary says it will launch its own investigation and review in response to the fatal dog attack on Sunday.

“We welcome the recent announcement from the Province of Alberta that there will be an independent review of this incident and are committed to supporting that process to our fullest ability,” said Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth during a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

Gondek says she doesn’t believe the province or AHS when it said Williams’ death was not an issue of consolidating dispatch services.

“I don’t buy what they’re saying,” she said, adding that she would love to see the province’s review be completed a lot faster.

“I know how the machine works, so it’s devastating that it’s going to take four months but I also want it done properly.”

She added that no matter how long the work takes, it shouldn’t cloud the fact that the system is not working.

“They need to go back to the system that existed that was world-class. We need to go back to it or we will lose more lives.”

AHS says the results of the independent review will be made public when they become available.

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