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Fatal dog attack response is a dispatch issue, city says

Civic and union leaders called on the province Thursday to return to the localized integrated tri-service dispatch model.

This comes on the heels of AHS ordering an independent review into the EMS response to a fatal dog attack on an 86-year-old woman in Calgary, that occurred on June 5.

Calgary’s Mayor Jyoti Gondek and fire chief Steve Dongworth both recognized the incident as a tragic outcome for all parties involved. They sent their deepest sympathies and condolences to the victim, witnesses, family, and friends.

The City of Calgary has said that they plan on conducting their own investigation and review of emergency services response to the attack.

“The bottom line is that longer response times, and additional unnecessary steps in the process of reporting a complex emergency drastically impacts patient outcomes,” said Mayor Gondek.

The city wrote in a statement sent to the media earlier on Thursday, that they welcomed the announcement by Alberta Health Services for their own review.

“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,” wrote the city.

Mayor Gondek said that the City of Calgary and its partners all agree that the dispatch system is broken.

“Collectively, we have been saying for years, that provincial consolidation of emergency medical services dispatch to AHS will not work,” she said.

Gondek also expressed concerns that the province’s decision to move away from localized integrated tri-service models was, in effect, changing a system that already reflected industry best practices.

“This moment calls for humility, it calls for honesty, it calls for the province to speak directly to their decision and the danger that decision is causing,” said Gondek.

Dog attack highlights broken system, said Mayor

On June 5, an 86-year-old woman died after being attacked by three dogs in the Calgary community of Capitol Hill.

Calgary Police Service said the woman was found in the 1500 block of 21 Avenue N.W. at about 2 p.m.

According to police, neighbours tried to intervene in the attack, including the owner of the dogs who eventually removed the animals from the scene prior to the arrival of first responders.

Chief Dongworth said, no recordings or transcripts of the call at this time will be released.

Mayor Gondek said she doesn’t see that a four-month review is an appropriate time for the province, but would “love to see something much quicker.”

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

“A four-month review into a single incident should not hold us up from understanding that the system doesn’t work.”

The Mayor called on the province to restore the “system that was world class,” lest more lives be lost.

On August 5, 2020, Alberta Health Services announced that EMS 911 dispatch services would be joined across Alberta.

Naheed Nenshi, Calgary’s mayor at the time, said the decision was a terrible idea. 

Mayor Nenshi, along with the mayors of Red Deer, Wood Buffalo, and Lethbridge, argued against the decision made by Alberta’s former health minister, Tyler Shandro.