According to the Miami Herald, paramedics from Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department who urgently wanted to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Valentine’s Day shooting were refused permission by the Broward Sheriff’s Office captain in charge of the scene, Jan Jordan.
17 people were murdered by the school shooter that day; 17 more were injured. The Herald reports, “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.” McNally wanted two Rescue Task Force (RTF) teams that were each comprised of three paramedics and three to four law enforcement officers to enter, but he said Jordan turned him down. He wrote in the report, “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.’”
The Herald adds, “Even after the shooter had been arrested, the answer remained the same.” The Herald notes that RTF teams are designed to allow paramedics to treat victims protected by police when a shooter has been pinned down or fled but has not necessarily been captured.
SWAT medics did enter the building; there has not been information as to what the number of medics was.
The refusal of the sheriff’s office to allow the RTF teams to enter the school was reported by Fox News roughly two weeks after the massacre, but the details of who made the call were sketchy until the release of McNally’s report.
Although the paramedics were denied entry because the authorities were unaware of the whereabouts of the shooter and didn’t want to endanger the paramedics, Coral Springs Fire Chief Frank Babinec stated on Thursday, “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.”
Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for BSO, emailed the Herald on Thursday that medics are only permitted to enter “after it has been confirmed the threat is mitigated.”
The victims of the shooter were not treated in the school but transported to a medical staging area nearby before they were transported to hospitals. 15 people died at the school.
McNally wrote that communication between Coral Springs fire command and BSO was plagued by problems and that he often could not locate Jordan. He added, “The command post was inundated with too many people and made it impossible to establish and function.”
McNally said he couldn’t be sure whether the RTF teams could have helped, but added Jordan couldn’t have known that when she repeatedly refused permission for the teams to enter. He wrote, “Later, it was determined that the RTF element may not have aided in any additional care to patients. However, this information was not known at the time of the requests.”