As the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School unfolded, paramedics tried to enter the school to help dozens of wounded and dying students inside, but Broward Sherrif’s Office wouldn’t let them — even after the gunman was arrested.
On six occasions, Michael McNally, deputy chief for Coral Springs fire-rescue, asked for permission to send a Rescue Task Force of police officers and paramedics into the school, but he was told no every time and wrote in a report released Thursday by Coral Springs:
The [BSO] incident commander advised me, “She would have to check.” After several minutes, I requested once again the need to deploy RTF elements into the scene to … initiate treatment as soon as possible. Once again, the incident commander expressed that she “would have to check before approving this request.”
It was initially reported that paramedics experienced delays in entry because authorities were still trying to locate the shooter, as the school’s security footage was running on a 20-minute delay.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
“I’m not saying the [RTFs] would have made a difference and I’m not saying they wouldn’t have made a difference, but it would have been more medics and more hands helping out,” Coral Springs Fire Chief Frank Babinec said in an interview Thursday.
Injured victims were instead brought to a nearby medical staging area before being taken to a hospital. 15 of the 17 mortally injured victims passed away at the school.
In his report, McNally blasted the dysfunctional communication between law enforcement groups, saying, “The command post was inundated with too many people and made it impossible to establish and function.”
Three additional reports released Thursday by Coral Springs also confirmed Broward Sheriff’s Office’s role in denying entry to paramedics. While McNally acknowledged the RTF teams may not have made a difference, it was impossible to know this at the time.
“Later, it was determined that the RTF element may not have aided in any additional care to patients,” he wrote. “However, this information was not known at the time of the requests.”