Consolidation of EMS dispatch did not affect response to fatal dog attack: Alberta health minister

The consolidation of EMS dispatch in Alberta did not affect the response to the fatal dog attack in Calgary on Sunday, Health Minister Jason Copping said.

Speaking to reporters at an unrelated news conference on Thursday morning, Copping said the call initially came in as non-urgent and emergency responders at the scene quickly saw it was a life-threatening situation.

An initial report published by Alberta Health Services indicates that the consolidation of EMS dispatch a year ago did not affect the response to the incident, Copping said.

Read more: ‘I should still have my auntie’: Family of fatal dog attack victim speaks out

“When we initially heard that the timing (for paramedics to arrive) was approximately 30 minutes — it is not acceptable,” Copping said.

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“I haven’t got a full assessment from AHS, but the initial assessment is that the consolidation of dispatch didn’t impact the nature of this call.”

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of the individual who passed away during this attack.”

Copping’s comments come as EMS wait times are under scrutiny, after three dogs fatally attacked 86-year-old Betty Williams in her northwest Calgary backyard on Sunday.

Read more: AHS reviewing EMS response time for fatal dog attack in northwest Calgary

It also comes after the province consolidated emergency dispatch services in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Fort McMurray last year.

Calgary officials previously said the consolidation would result in call flow interruption and response delays, meaning “significantly longer” wait times for people needing an emergency response.

It was first reported that it took paramedics 30 minutes to answer the calls for help from neighbours — but an initial assessment by AHS suggested it wasn’t prioritized as a life-threatening call.

AHS told Global News on Wednesday EMS was responding based on the information provided at the time. Upon arriving at the scene, Calgary police officers notified paramedics after they saw Williams’ injuries were serious.

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Read more: Woman in her 80s attacked, killed by 3 dogs in northwest Calgary

“EMS immediately dispatched an ambulance, which arrived on scene nine minutes later,” AHS said on Wednesday.

Copping said the 30-minute response time was unacceptable and the health ministry will take AHS’ final report into consideration.

“You can rest assured that there will be a full investigation and any recommendations coming out of this will be taken to heart,” Copping said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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