BALTIMORE (WJZ) — From a small Texas church to Las Vegas to Harford County, recent mass shootings have horrified people across America, and their growing frequency is changing the way police and paramedics respond together.
Tonight, WJZ investigator Mike Hellgren shows us how they’re getting to victims and saving lives when every second counts.
Only WJZ obtained the video showing the chaos outside an Edgewood business moments after a man went on a shooting rampage against his co-workers there last month.
Paramedics were able to get to the injured faster because of new protocol that allowed them to enter the building under police cover, even with the continuing threat of an armed gunman still on the loose.
“This is a complete mind shift, change,” says Harford County deputy Jeremy Mothershed. He calls the first few minutes after an incident like the one in Edgewood “paramount.”
He was one of the first on the scene that day.
“Time is saving lives and we need to get in and stop that bleeding to saves those lives,” he told WJZ.
Mothershed was uniquely prepared for what he saw at Advanced Granite Solutions. He’s also the chief of emergency medical services for Havre de Grace ambulance.
He had just finished training some of the same EMTs who were with him on the scene.
“Just being able to have that dialogue and really not even having to say much of anything, and they got in and they did it,” he said.
In the past, paramedics would have to wait, no matter how long it took until there was no possible threat from an active shooter.
During the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, emergency personnel were left outside for three hours before they could go in and treat victims.
At the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, police used their own squad cars to take the wounded away from the scene for treatment.
But the federal government recently called for a more aggressive response, training paramedics to enter danger zones under police cover.
In Edgewood, teams of medics and officers went in together.
“Something that we would have probably never thought would ever have to be needed 10 years ago… our paramedics and EMTs wearing ballistic vests on an incident let alone as a daily requirement,” Mothershed says. “You could say it’s not the normal but it’s a necessary evil that we have to deal with right now.”
The Edgewood response will be used to train medics in the future. And lives were saved that day.
Enoc Sosa was shot in the head and was one of only two victims to survive.
“Do you believe in miracles? Look at me,” Sosa said. “I’m a miracle to be alive. And what do not kill you makes you stronger.”
“The true test is when it happens for real life,” Mothershed says. “On that Wednesday, we proved that it can work. It’s no longer textbook.”