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CONFUSION, DELAYS, MISDIRECTION INMEDICAL RESPONSE COST LIVES AT UVALDE, GUTIERREZ SAYS AFTER INVESTIGATION REVEALS CHAOS
District 19 Senator Roland Gutierrez is citing reports of failure among emergency command and authorities responding to the mass shooting of students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde earlier this year as helping to illuminate what he describes as a cover-up by the state of its own shortcomings.
Last week’s report, published jointly by ProPublica, the Texas Tribune and the Washington Post, outlines apparent lack of command, control, and communication that ultimately resulted in delayed medical response in Uvalde.
Those failures may have cost lives, the senator said.
A teen gunman entered Robb Elementary School on May 24 and killed 19 children and two teachers before being shot by law enforcement agents. Sen. Gutierrez has called for accountability in the law enforcement response since it was revealed that officers took more than an hour to enter the classroom to which the gunman had retreated.
Delays in emergency response and subsequent provision of medical assistance to the injured may have cost lives that might have been saved if they had been treated sooner, according to the report.
Sen. Gutierrez said he believes the newly published report shows for the first time that “communication lapses and muddled lines of authority among medical responders further hampered treatment” for victims at Robb Elementary after “law enforcement’s well-documented failure to confront the shooter who terrorized the school for 77 minutes,” citing the Tribune on December 20.
“Three victims who emerged from the school with a pulse later died,” the senator noted from the report. “In the case of two of those victims, critical resources were not available when medics expected they would be, delaying hospital treatment.
“With every news story on Uvalde, the cover-up unravels,” Gutierrez added. “We have evidence that the complete lack of command, control, and communication led to a failed law enforcement response to kill the shooter and a failed medical response to save the children and teachers. Department of Public Safety failures and delays by first responders resulted in lives lost.”
In one example cited by the Texas Tribune in its investigation, schoolteacher Eva Mireles had been shot in the chest while shielding her students from the gunman and lost blood for at least an hour before she was carried out of the building by law enforcement officers. Although a medic reported to investigators that he did not see any ambulances, there were two parked approximately 100 feet away.
“The chaotic scene exemplified the flawed medical response, captured in video footage, investigative documents, interviews and radio traffic, that experts said undermined the chances of survival for some victims of the
May 24 massacre,” the report stated.
In another example cited by the Texas Tribune, potentially lifesaving supplies were held back when air support was redirected.
“The disjointed medical response frustrated medics while delaying efforts to get ambulances, air transport and other emergency services to victims,” the report stated. “Medical helicopters with critical supplies of blood tried to land at the school, but an unidentified fire department official told them to wait at an airport three miles away.”
The report also indicates that a review of the scene at the school shows “dozens of parked police vehicles blocked the paths of ambulances trying to reach victims.”
Records kept by the emergency medical service indicate that six children – including one who was seriously wounded – were taken to a hospital in a school bus with no trained medics on board, and only two ambulances were parked outside the school when the shooter was killed.
“That was not nearly enough for the ten or more gunshot victims then still alive,” the report stated, “though additional ambulances began arriving ten minutes later.”
Investigations into the emergency response have revealed that while helicopters were available, none were used to carry victims directly from the school.
“At least four patients who survived were flown by helicopter to a more fully equipped trauma center in San Antonio after first being driven by ambulance to a nearby hospital or airport,” the report stated.
“Uvalde families were let down by their government and the people sworn to protect them on May 24,” the senator said. “In the months since, Governor Abbott, DPS Director McCraw, and District Attorney Mitchell Busbee have kept Texans in the dark. The elections are over. It’s time for the coverup to end.”
Sen. Gutierrez noted that the Texas Legislature will convene in January, “for the first time since the massacre at Robb Elementary,” and that he hopes his fellow legislators will join him in holding “the DPS accountable take common-sense steps to stop gun violence, and do right by Uvalde families.”