911 Calls in SeaWorld Killer Whale Attack Released
One of the caller's statements adds validity to reports that SeaWorld knew of the inherent danger posed by the 12,000-pound orca, named Tilikum, which had also been involved in two previous human deaths.
An unidentified SeaWorld employee made the three calls in the immediate aftermath of the attack; the calls have been edited into one audio file by Orange County Fire and Rescue. It is available for download here.
In the first call, the SeaWorld employee explains to the dispatch operator that Brancheau is still in the water with Tilikum despite the fact that she was "not supposed to" be there. An Orange County Fire and Rescue spokesperson told AOL News that emergency personnel were dispatched immediately after this call and that the first unit arrived on the scene within four minutes.
In the second call, the employee says that a park defibrillator has been activated, suggesting that park respondents were worried Brancheau's heart had failed. In the final call, the employee requests that the dispatch operator bring emergency vehicles into the park.
The following is a rough transcript of the exchanges:
Call 1 (1:48 p.m. local time)
DISPATCH OPERATOR: Orange County Fire and Rescue, go ahead.
CALLER: Uh, Sixty-six hundred Sea Harbour Drive.
C: Uh, SeaWorld (unrecognizable).
D: OK, and where's the patient located inside the park?
C: They are at Shamu Stadium. We actually have a trainer in the water with one of our whales. ... The whale that they're not supposed to be in the water with.
C: ... So we don't know what's going on. We were just told to call and have people here on standby when they get the person out.
D: OK, and do you know if -- So you don't know if the person was injured or if they're having a medical problem?
C: No idea.
D: OK, very well, thank you.
C: I don't even think they're out of the water, yet. They're still in there with the whale, so ...
D: OK, but someone is on the scene and they are getting them out of the water now?
C: There are people working on it, yes.
C: There's about two, three dozen people over there right now.
D: Alright. We'll get somebody en route and ...
C: Just come through gate number three to Shamu Stadium.
D: Gate three?
C: Gate three.
D: Alright got it.
D: Thank you.
C: Thank you, bye.
Call 2 (1:49 p.m.)
D: Fire and Rescue?
C: Hi, this is um, Sea World, I just called ...
C: ... Can you let them know that they pulled the AED [Automated External Defibrillator].
D: Say what?
C: They pulled the defibrillator ...
C: So for that, they're coming to SeaWorld for. They just pulled it ... out of the box ... I just got an alarm.
D: OK. Alrighty, and you haven't got anymore information about what's going on?
C: No I don't, no. They're still working.
D: Oh OK, very good. Thanks for the additional info, we'll pass it on to them.
C: Alright, thank you so much.
Call 3 (1:51 p.m.)
D: Fire and Rescue, this is the emergency?
C: Sixty-six hundred Sea Harbor drive, this is SeaWorld again.
C: Um they're gonna go ahead and bring them in the park. Can you let them know?
D: OK, they're going to?
C: They're going to bring the vehicles into the park.
D: OK, I'll let them ...
C: My guys are waiting for them at gate three, OK?
D: Gate three? Alrighty. I'll let them know.
C: Thank you so much.
D: Bye bye.
C: Alright bye bye.
Despite the efforts of park employees and rescue workers to revive her, Brancheau was pronounced dead at the scene. Following the incident, SeaWorld initially suspended its popular "Shamu" killer whale shows and announced an internal investigation. The shows resumed three days after the attack, but trainers are prohibited from entering the water, pending the results of SeaWorld's internal investigation and a separate investigation by federal wildlife regulators.
The Orlando Sentinel previously noted that "SeaWorld trainers were forbidden from swimming with Tilikum," although they were allowed to swim with other orcas. The paper also claimed that "only about a dozen of 28 handlers, including Brancheau, had been specifically trained to work with him from the edge of SeaWorld's pools."
In a news conference last week, SeaWorld Orlando President Jim Atchison responded to the question of whether any specific company guidelines had been violated in the handling of Tilikum.
"It's far too early to get to that point," he told reporters. "We are evaluating every policy, every procedure we have."