It is a painful place to be, the backyard where her Auntie Rusty lost her life after being attacked and killed by three dogs belonging to her next-door neighbor. But Candy Speck said the yard is also comforting because it’s where Betty Ann Williams spent so much of her time.
“I was her everything and she was my everything,” Speck said.
Speck moved in with her aunt a few years ago to help her through her two cancer treatments. She was recently in remission and just a couple months from her 87th birthday. The two shared a lot of time together reminiscing at the kitchen table.
“She would tell me all kinds of stories,” she said. “This was my home with my auntie and she’s gone and I don’t know what to do next and I’m completely lost. I feel so alone.”
Speck said she’s heartsick over how her aunt lost her life and is still processing the gravity of how it happened.
“To have to go identify her, it was traumatic and one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. They tried to piece her back together but I wasn’t allowed to touch her or kiss her or nothing. Every time I close my eyes, that’s all I see.”
She’s angry at the dog owner and said he could have reinforced his gate to ensure the dogs couldn’t escape.
“It was 100 per cent preventable, I should still have my auntie.”
Betty Williams, known to friends and family as Rusty, was killed by the trio of pets as she was working in her backyard Sunday afternoon in a northwest Calgary neighbourhood.
AHS reviews EMS response time
Alberta Health Services has released an initial review into the 911 call made by neighbours as they desperately tried to save a senior attacked by three dogs.
It was first reported that it took paramedics 30 minutes to answer the calls for help. But a probe into what happened suggests it wasn’t prioritized as a life-threatening call.
In a statement to Global News, AHS said the following is the sequence of events that took place.
“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. 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,” the statement noted.
AHS acknowledged it happened at a time of very high EMS call volumes. AHS is discussing these findings further within EMS and will also reach out to CPS.
Health Sciences Association of Alberta president Mike Parker said more still needs to be done.
“We face a scenario where we can’t get paramedics to your emergency call and the trust in the system is waning,” Parker said.
“Our paramedics are on their knees desperate for help. We have an employer that says we only have code reds for a few seconds, this one lasts all day long on a Sunday.”
He said paramedics are stretched beyond their limits.
“We have 400 vacant shifts in the province, just this week,” he said. “It’s devastating on these folks because, after a call like this, they can’t step back and collect themselves. They have to get out to the streets to the holding calls. This is why we see a mass exodus of employees never to return.”
Steve Buick, spokesperson for Health Minister Jason Copping’s office, said Minister Copping is relieved to hear that the initial review by AHS confirms there was no undue delay in the EMS response.
“It doesn’t change the fact that this death was a terrible tragedy, or the need to address the strain on EMS,” Buick said. “We need to keep supporting EMS and adding whatever resources are needed until we get response times back within AHS’ targets.”
NDP health critic David Shepherd said he believes the response could have been faster.
“It’s deeply concerning that an Albertan in dire need faced a wait time that was more than two times as long as AHS has deemed acceptable,” Shepherd said. “The AHS limit for the lowest response time is 12 minutes and this woman was left to wait 30, that is absolutely unacceptable.”
William’s family set up a fundraiser to help with a celebration of life. The gofundme organizer Heather Johnson writes “the disbelief and shock is breathtaking.”
“She may have been small in stature, but her personality made her larger than life. Rusty served our country proudly. She is a recent cancer survivor; she had endured cancer two times and recently in the last couple of months was in remission,” Johnson wrote. “Small but strong lady to say the least. She was ready to live her golden years cancer-free. Rusty will be missed by many.”
The dogs were seized by Calgary community standards as a criminal investigation into the matter is underway.