There has been a lot of troubling news about the response of the police to the threats posed by the Florida shooter before the shooting and then the failure of the response after the shooting. On Monday, there was more disturbing news.
From Fox News:
Three high-ranking Florida officials close to the law enforcement response at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tell Fox News there was a delay in Emergency Medical Service getting into the school in the critical moments after Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding at least 14 others.
Two separate sources told Fox News some of the EMS teams who requested to enter the school were told they could not. One source said it was the Broward County Sheriff’s Office – which was the commanding office – that ordered some of the EMS crews not to go into the school when they requested to enter.
“What’s going to come out is, in the communications on several circumstances, there was the request to enter… the request was denied from Broward County,” a Florida official told Fox News.
“When you have a police agency saying we don’t want you going in, that’s a problem,” another Florida official said. “The training since Columbine has been [that] first responders, police go in immediately with paramedics.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said the response was still being investigated so they would not respond until they had completed their review.
Multiple high-ranking sources told Fox News police officers and deputies were bringing victims out to EMS workers to be treated instead of allowing EMS inside. One fire official said that “sometimes” that’s just how it would happen, but at least one emergency responder wondered if the response was detrimental to the victims.
Three Florida officials confirmed to Fox News that the emergency response at Stoneman Douglas apparently went against standard EMS training in which EMS teams typically go into emergency situations right behind police as soon as possible.
“We’re trained to go in behind the advanced team to engage the shooter. We’re trained to get in behind them with a security contingent of law enforcement. It’s my understanding that it didn’t happen right away,” a high-ranking fire official told Fox News. “There was a delay.”
Mike Moser, the Division Chief of Fire Administration for Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department, which was on scene that day, released a statement saying that the request was denied by Broward because the location of the shooter was not known.
Still, officials and responders remained angry about how operations were handled. Fox News’ reporting aligns with similar information from reporter Brian Entin of Fox News affiliate WSVN in Miami.
Entin reports he spoke to a seasoned emergency medical responder who was one of the first on the scene to the Stoneman Douglas shooting. The responder told Entin, “everything I was trained on mass casualty events says they did the wrong thing.”
The responder also reportedly told Entin that medical teams were willing to risk their lives to go inside and were asking their scene commander why they were standing around. “The response every time was, law enforcement did not clear the scene and would not allow medical personnel in.”
The responder added, “I would hypothesize I could have saved lives. I can’t say for sure.”
The delay may have been related to the delay in response by the deputies. In addition to the reported delay by Scott Peterson, three other deputies are being looked at over their response on the day of the shooting.
There was also confusion early in the response where police didn’t realize that the shooter had left before they arrived but were still following video which they didn’t realize had been wound back twenty minutes. So they still thought they were seeing him on the grounds. If that contributed to not allowing EMS to go in, that would be a monumental mistake and may have cost lives.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the state’s top law enforcement official, spoke to Fox News on Monday and weighed in on the ongoing investigation into the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, suggesting it would shine a light on the timeline of the February 14 massacre.
“I know a lot more than you all do now, so all I’m going to say is, yes, I believe there needs to be a full investigation,” Bondi said. “I don’t think some people were being honest and we’re going to investigate this in Florida and the right thing will be done.”
It’s intolerable that in such a horrible tragedy that on top of all that the response may have cost lives.
There are obviously a lot of problems that need to be rectified so this never happens again.
[Note: This post was written by Nick Arama]