Just when you think you couldn’t be more disgusted with the Broward County [Florida] Sheriff’s Office and their cowardly actions, news emerges that pretty much doubles down on all of that.
According to a new report, during the heartbreaking chaos of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a specialized rescue unit with the Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department made attempts to get inside the building and assist the injured and dying.
Michael McNally, deputy chief for Coral Springs fire-rescue, asked six times for permission to send in specialized teams of police officers and paramedics, according to an incident report he filed after the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 people dead.
The teams McNally is referring to are two Rescue Task Force teams. Each team is made up of 3 paramedics, assisted by 3 to 4 police officers. Each time they asked permission to enter the building and tend to the injured or dying, they were told “no” by Jan Jordan, the Broward Sheriff’s Office captain who was in charge of the scene.
I can almost understand the hesitation to send in civilians (the paramedics) when they were still unsure about the shooter. This wasn’t just paramedics, however. There were police officers involved.
I guess this is no surprise, given that sheriff’s deputies made no efforts to enter the building to stop the carnage, either.
McNally’s report on the events is maddening.
"The [BSO] incident commander advised me, 'She would have to check,' " McNally wrote in the report released Thursday by Coral Springs. "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.' "
And Jordan gave the same answer, even after the shooter had already been arrested.
Precious minutes ticking away, as kids lay injured and/or dying.
It's not known whether paramedics, who arrived at Stoneman Douglas within minutes of the shooting, could have saved lives. Thirty-four people had been shot inside the school's freshman building. Gunshot wound victims can bleed out quickly, meaning fast action is necessary. The special RTF teams allow paramedics to treat victims under the protection of police officers in situations where a shooter has been pinned down or fled but has not necessarily been captured.
SWAT medics went in instead, although it's not clear exactly how many or when.
In defense of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, however (and believe me, they did plenty that is indefensible), reports have also come out that they were not willing to send in paramedics when they didn’t know where the shooter was, out of precaution.
They were using school security footage, at one point, and it showed Nikolas Cruz still in the building. The problem there is that what they were viewing was on a 20 minute delay. Cruz fled the building after only about 6 minutes of shooting. He was picked up later, off of school property.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the first rodeo for Broward County Sheriff’s Office. McNally had more to say.
In his report, McNally, who had been ordered to act as a liaison between Coral Springs fire command and BSO, also claimed BSO's command post was severely dysfunctional. Communication was difficult, McNally said, because he often could not locate Jordan, BSO's district commander for Parkland.
"The command post was inundated with too many people and made it impossible to establish and function," McNally wrote, echoing criticisms of the disorganization and lack of a unified command structure that plagued BSO's response to a deadly shooting at the Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last year.
Three more incident reports revealed on Thursday confirm McNally’s report, that fire-rescue was denied entry.
McNally’s report goes on to concede that there’s no guarantee that a single life could have been saved, had they been allowed to go in and administer aid, but Jordan had no way of knowing that, at the time. No one did.
I guess we’ll never know.