Police in Edmonton have issued an apology after an assault victim was left lying in an alley for more than 90 minutes after 911 had been called. The police acknowledged that a breakdown in communication on their behalf was to blame, and promised the residents of Edmonton that they ‘vow to be better.’
Police were called at approximately 5:30 AM on Wednesday morning when a young woman was discovered covered in blood and barely conscious. The woman, who had allegedy been attacked and beaten by three people with a metal pipe, was unable to feel her legs and was vomiting violently.
John Saunders, a first aid instructor, was the first person to find the woman and explained that he called emergency services immediately. He recalls clearly hearing the operator say, “We are going to need a police escort to ensure the scene is safe because this is the scene of an assault.” Saunders then heard the police operator confirm, “Yes I will dispatch a car.”
During the 90 minute wait for emergency services to arrive, Saunders confirmed that several other people made calls to 911. Global News reports that the police were called up to six times from the scene, but neither paramedics nor police showed up.
Man finds woman on the street covered in blood. It is 5:33 a.m. He calls 911 several times. EMS will not respond wi… https://t.co/fhrCJbIfVU— NYC EMS Watch (@NYC EMS Watch)1564718215.0
According to Edmonton police, a misunderstanding in communication led police to believe paramedics had already treated the victim. In fact, paramedics had been waiting for clearance from the police to attend the scene and had not treated the woman at all.
Spokesperson Superintendent Darrin Balanik said, “Our northeast command on that morning knew that EMS was on scene, however, they believed that EMS was providing comfort and assistance to the victim, not standing by.”
Balanik acknowledged the poor communication between the services and explained that Edmonton police had reached out to their Alberta Health Services partners in order to improve in this area.
Alberta Health Services told Global News, “It is imperative that we balance the need to respond to a patient in a timely manner with the need to ensure our staff are safe.”
In the end, it took a bystander to drive to the nearest fire station in order to get the victim help. Firefighters attended the scene within minutes and were able to help the woman. The woman was taken to hospital and, thankfully, has since been released.
Balanik confirmed the police were taking full responsibility for their poor services, and promised to make improvements. “We cannot sit here and say that we did the best job we could in this situation," he said.
“For Edmontonians, we vow to be better. To the victim, our sincere apology. We are not perfect and we will make improvements,” Balanik concluded.