Health care advocacy group to review EMS response to fatal dog attack

The Health Quality Council of Alberta is trying to find out why it took 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to the scene

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A three-month review into a dog attack that killed an 86-year-old Calgary woman will be conducted independently by a provincial health care advocacy group, it was announced Friday.

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Nearly two weeks after Betty Ann Williams was fatally mauled by three dogs outside her Capitol Hill residence, it has been revealed that the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) will try to find out why it took 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to the scene arrived.

The panel’s independence from Alberta Health Services and the government department of Alberta Health makes it suitable to carry out the task, which is expected to issue a report in September, said AHS, which has already conducted an internal investigation into the incident.

“AHS believes that an independent review is needed to ensure opportunities for improvement are identified,” Alberta Health Services said in a statement.

“Every effort will be made to complete the review quickly. The results will be shared publicly.”

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Charlene McBrien-Morrison, CEO of HQCA said: “HQCA will provide an objective, evidence-based analysis. We will determine if there are broader health system factors that contributed to the incident and make recommendations for opportunities for improvement.”

Protocols, structures and processes, and system factors related to the “extended response time” will be reviewed, said AHS, which has indicated they will be conducting one quality Assurance review to identify areas that can be strengthened.

AHS said the review will be assisted by two outside experts, BC Emergency Health Services systems and strategy officer Kevin Smith and Kim Ridgen-Briscall, associate director of the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). Smith is also the former chief medic of Niagara.

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  1. Braid: For dog attack deaths, the public should see the transcripts of the 911 calls

  2. ambulance

    Independent review ordered wait half hour for emergency services in case of fatal dog attack

  3. If we allow potentially dangerous dog breeds like pit bulls, owners will face the consequences if they lose control of their pets, says columnist Chris Nelson.

    Nelson: If owners and not dogs are responsible for serious attacks, make them pay

On June 4, Williams was working outside her home on Capitol Hill in the city’s northwest when she was attacked by three dogs that escaped from a neighbor’s backyard.

Neighbors who called 911 to comfort the mortally injured Williams – better known as Rusty – said they asked for paramedics to help. However, AHS says the call was marked as non-life threatening.threatening Dog bite and shipping was triaged accordingly from there.

AHS later confirmed that at the time of the 911 call, Calgary was in “red alert” – issued when ambulances are not available in a jurisdiction to respond to emergency calls.

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At the time of the call, 18 ambulances were waiting to offload patients at various medical facilities, paramedics awaiting handover of supplies, crews preparing to return to duty after dropping off a patient, or ambulances busy at a facility arrived.

A neighbor, who has agreed to Postmedia identifying her only as Nicola, called 911 immediately after the attack and said she felt wrongly accused of failing to emphasize the urgency of the situation.

But interim AHS President Mauro Chies later insisted that was not the case and expressed his gratitude for their efforts.

Nicola said she was glad an independent body was hired to look into the incident but wondered if anything would change.

“Will anything really come of it? Will the government be willing to put more money into the system?” she said, while wondering why it will take until September to complete the review.

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“People will forget about it by then.”

Nicola said while she was contacted by police, no one from AHS questioned her about what happened that day, adding that she was receiving psychiatric therapy after witnessing the aftermath of the dog attack.

The city police are investigating the incident while the city’s Community Standards confiscated the dogs.

The animals that could be euthanized are also being held as part of the investigation, police said.

Despite Postmedia’s requests for a copy of the 911 calls, city officials said they could not release them because of the police detection is in progress.

Nicola said she also asked for an 911 transcript, to no avail.

Meanwhile, a Gofundme page to fund William’s funeral was set up by two people, one of whom was the woman’s niece who was living with her at the time of her death.

“Rusty proudly served our country (in the military). She’s had cancer twice and has been in remission for the past few months,” the Gofundme page said.

“She was ready to live out her golden years cancer-free. She was as tall as a minute, 85 pounds soaking wet…she may have been small in stature, but her personality made her larger than life.”

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Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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