Neighbour questions why 911 call deemed non-urgent after fatal dog attack
An alert resident trying to help an elderly neighbour, who was slumped against her garage door in a northwest alley after being attacked by three dogs on Sunday, says she requested an ambulance while on the phone with 911.
Nicola, who lives nearby, says her husband went to assist Betty Ann Williams, who was known to friends as Rusty, after she was mauled by her neighbour's three pitbull-type dogs while gardening.
CTV has agreed not to use Nicola’s full name.
“I did my best to tell them what was going on,” said an emotional Nicola.
“I didn't know Rusty's actual age, I just said an 80 year old woman has been mauled by three dogs and we need an ambulance here right away.”
Nicola said the dispatcher continued to ask other questions, but she wanted to know when EMS would arrive.
Nicola called 911 at 2:01 p.m. on Sunday. She was on the phone with them for until 2:06 p.m.
Calgary police say officers were dispatched at 2:08 p.m. arriving on scene at 2:10 p.m.
Nicola says it was a bylaw officer who was first on scene, trying to radio to colleagues about the severity of the incident.
“The bylaw officer is on his radio and he's like, ‘What happened to the ambulance that we just asked for?'” said Nicola.
“He just kept trying on his radio. He tried for 15 minutes to get somebody to say, 'Hey, get somebody here.' He kind of got a little mad and he said, 'You know what I'm going to call the fire department. I know they have people on staff.'”
Alberta’s chief paramedic says AHS and EMS are still trying to piece together the events from the incident.
“We are hearing reports of a bylaw officer, that we haven’t been able to get the facts around that particular portion of this event yet,” said Darren Sandbeck.
Nicola says Calgary police arrived just before the fire department, who radioed for EMS.
Alberta Health Services says police had let their EMS dispatcher know help was needed. An ambulance arrived nine minutes later.
Nicola says that ambulance arrived at 2:35 p.m, after seeing one drive by earlier.
On Tuesday, AHS issued a statement.
"The initial 911 call was received by City of Calgary 911 dispatch and was categorized for police response based on the information provided from the scene," it read.
"Calgary Police Service communicated to EMS that they were responding. Based on information provided to EMS, the call was triaged as non-life-threatening.
"When CPS arrived on scene, they notified EMS that the patient's injuries were serious. EMS immediately dispatched an ambulance, which arrived on scene nine minutes later."
Nicola says she believes the AHS response puts her at fault for Williams' death.
“I'm choked because now I feel like she died because it was my fault,” said Nicola.
“How was I supposed to know what to tell them? I mean, after what we saw, it was awful.”
Sandbeck pointed out dispatchers are only able to work with information provided to them.
“When we initially first got the call from Calgary Police Service, it was classified as a bravo call, which is emergency non-life threatening," he said.
Sandbeck adds the work of police aided getting an ambulance there.
“When CPS arrived they immediately notified our dispatcher that this was a serious life threatening situation,” said Sandbeck.
“At which time we updated our response to a life-threatening response and an ambulance was immediately dispatched to that event and arrived nine minutes after that dispatch.”
The City of Calgary says the three dogs are still in custody with Animal Services as they await direction from police.
CTV made several interview requests to Calgary police, which were denied.
“We are still investigating and will share information when more becomes available regarding possible charges laid,” read a statement from police.
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