Deltona, Florida — A small squirrel “went nuts” at a senior-living facility in Deltona, Florida, on November 3, 2016, prompting a 911 call and subsequent medical treatment for three attack victims.
The facility, Sterling Court Gracious Retirement Living senior community, “offers the best of the Sunshine State, with a heated pool and wonderful amenities to make your retirement experience rich,” says the website of Holiday Retirement, the company that manages Sterling Court. The senior center is located thirty minutes from both Orlando and Daytona Beach, not far from Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios.
The squirrel attacks began outside of Sterling Court soon after lunch at about 2:30 p.m. when the animal bit someone, according to officials with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Unable to break free of the bite by the bushy-tailed attacker, the victim fled into the facility with the animal still attached. Once inside, the animal disconnected itself from the first victim but became further agitated. It began assaulting other residents in a frenzy inside the facility’s activity room.
In response, a frantic staff member made an agitated three-minute telephone call to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office emergency services line, telling the 911 dispatcher attacker,
“We had a squirrel that entered our building and it’s in our activity room.”
The caller went on to say,
“It’s jumping on people and biting them and scratching them” and pleaded, “We need help.”
An audio recording of the 911 call reveals multiple voices in the background during the call. Victims can be heard calling for help. One person can be overheard saying, “I feel lightheaded,” and “I don’t feel good.”
In response, the 911 dispatcher asks, “Okay, does anybody there need an ambulance to take them to the hospital?”
The caller responds, “I don’t know if we need to go in an ambulance but we need some care for people here.”
The caller added,
“It’s still in there, and the people are bleeding.”
The dispatcher inquires if everyone is out of the room where the squirrel was rampaging, and the caller reports that someone is still in the room but that the vicious rodent has, by then, been tossed outside.
The caller continues,
“We need help for the people, not about the squirrel.”
Asked again if an ambulance is required, the caller now answers, “Yes, yes,” and notes that “at least three or four, possibly more,” people have been bitten.
An ambulance was dispatched, and the squirrel’s injured victims were taken to the hospital.
Three people — two Sterling Court residents and a staff member — were injured in the attacks. Fortunately, the three were soon released from the hospital. Orlando’s WESH TV station affirmed that the victims were “doing well” as of Thursday night.
A second Orlando station, WKMG-TV, reported on the day after the attack that no one had yet contacted the Florida Department of Health to report symptoms of rabies.
Nevertheless, the local health department said it would have an animal-bite expert follow up at the facility on Friday, November 4.
A Sterling Court representative declined to comment, but Brian Fawkes, a spokesperson for management company Holiday Retirement confirmed that the squirrel had been removed from the building.
However, the animal is believed to be still at large.