Did slow ambulance response time cost a Surrey teen his life? That’s the question being asked after more information has come to light following the tragic death of Dario Bartoli more than two years ago.
The City of Surrey – under pressure from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner – has released more information into the minutes after the 15-year-old was badly beaten in a south Surrey park on December 13, 2014.
After a Freedom of Information request last year by CKNW the City of Surrey released a letter dated January 20, 2015 from its Fire Chief Len Garis to Executive Vice-President of the Provincial Health Services Authority Linda Lupini with several sections redacted or blacked out.
Now months later, with an inquiry looming by the Privacy Commissioner’s office in Victoria, the City of Surrey has re-issued the letter with fewer sections blacked out.
The letter by Garis says the original call by RCMP to BC Ambulance was on hold for approximately three minutes before being answered. The RCMP were forced to call BC Ambulance a second time to request an emergency response when they could not hear sirens.
Read the re-issued letter sent to CKNW:
RCMP then called Surrey Fire to request an emergency response.
Garis says the first call by the RCMP to BC Ambulance was placed at approximately 2:46 a.m.
By the time an ambulance arrived it was approximately 3:11 a.m, Bartoli had been waiting 25 minutes.
He was transported to Peach Arch District Hospital but died of his injuries.
The hospital is only a 12-minute walk from where Bartoli was attacked.
Garis also goes on to say in the letter, “…the Surrey Fire Service never received a transfer of information from BC Ambulance Service regarding the noted request for service. I have been informed by staff this is not the first time over recent months this type of error or inconsistency has occurred.”
With questions still swirling about ambulance response times in the case, Bartoli’s mother Junko Iida is suing the province.
According to a Notice of a Civil Claim filed in November, Iida alleges her son died as a result of negligence, which it either caused or contributed to.
The suit names the Ministry of Health and an Emergency Services 911 dispatcher, and claims they failed to take the correct action when a Code 3 ambulance unit was requested.
It alleges a less urgent Code 2 was issued instead.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
After initially declining an interview on the subject, the executive vice-president of the Provincial Health Services Authority is responding to the controversy.
Linda Lupini, says it’s not up to her to say whether or not the lawsuit will be challenged in court, and says she won’t go into specific details over the allegations levelled at Ministry of Health, and the single identified 911 dispatch operator.
But she says the situation is “complex.”
“It is rarely the case that a single individual or a single decision contributed greatly to that outcome.”
“It’s very complex and there are many people and many activities along the way in terms of how we respond.”
Lupini says changes have been made since a review held just after the incident, including better coordination and data sharing between ambulance and fire responders,
Last July when CKNW interviewed Lupini she refused to say how long it took the ambulance to reach Bartoli but she did offer up this comment last summer.
“When we did go back and look at all the pieces along the way in terms of processing the call and deploying a car we perhaps should have deployed a car from a different location that was heading to a different call to try and get a car to this teenager more quickly and as I say we don’t really know whether that would have made a difference to the outcome it was a very senseless assault and a terrible crime and unfortunately a tragic outcome.”
Listen to the full interview from last summer:
Province stays mum
Meanwhile, Health Minister Terry Lake says an internal review is being done under a “Section 51” which he says allows people to give their account without it being available to the public.
“That is part of the legislation recognised as best practice to improving the healthcare systems.”
“Section 51 is not about openness, it’s about protecting people so that what they say, how they describe the situation, is not available to the public, and can not held against them in terms of any disciplinary action.”
However, he declined to comment further on the case, saying it is currently before the courts.
Still no arrests in the case
The 15-year-old died after what homicide investigators say was a violent altercation in which they believe Bartoli and his 14-year-old friend were swarmed and assaulted by four to five other youth who were unknown to them.
The two boys then fled to a nearby residence for help.
To date, there have been no arrests in the ongoing homicide investigation.