News | 27 May 2022
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Right place, right time: A life-saving phone call

Animal Control Officer Damian Nunns didn’t expect to save a man’s life during a phone call about a dog complaint – but his quick thinking helped him do just that.

Man standing infront of a car with a dog.

With 24 years of experience under his belt, and training in conflict resolution, Damian was following up on a complaint when he realised that something was wrong from the tone of voice of the person on the phone.  

“During the conversation, the man on the line just kept on saying that he wasn’t feeling well. I didn't actually understand what was going on myself, I just thought maybe he was feeling sick or something. He was trying to explain the situation, which was quite serious to him, but he couldn't focus on what he was talking about.

“I heard in his voice that he was distracted and distressed, and then he mentioned having severe pains in his chest,” says Damian.

The person on the phone tried to end the conversation, but after a few more questions, Damian realised the person was alone and had no support. 

“I said ‘can I help you?’ and he just said ‘no, I’ll be right’. Then he hung up on me and that didn’t seem right. I just wanted to be safe and sure, so I put an emergency call through, and passed on the details about what was happening,” says Damian.

This decision helped emergency services get to the person as quickly as possible, where they discovered that he had suffered from a heart attack. Within an hour of the ambulance arriving, he was in surgery and had two stents inserted into his heart.

Damian is humble about the part he played in helping this person get the support they needed, saying he just wanted to do the right thing. 

“I was just in the right place at the right time. If that was my father on the phone, and somebody was having that sort of conversation, I’d hope they would do the same.” 

Dog in the pound.

This passion and desire to help others doesn’t just stop with people – it also extends to any dog that enters the Animal Services Wellington dog shelter, where Damian has worked since 1998.

As the Team Leader for Animal Control, loving animals is a key part of his job. The work in the shelter and by the team is for the benefit of the animals that need their help, and is often different to what people expect, says Damian. 

“You could be anywhere at any time. You could be dealing with an out-of-control dog one minute, and then responding to a barking complaint the next. Some days we can sit out to do patrols in parks, and other days we are based at the shelter helping to look after the dogs that come in.”

In his role, Damien is most passionate about responsible dog ownership. 

“We want to help you set your dog up for success. 

“We are here to help you have a balance of loving the animal, getting a good understanding of what dog nature is about, and dog communication.”

To find out more about the work being done by Animal Services, you can visit their Facebook page. You can also sign up to the responsible dog ownership course to get your certification.