Dallas police shooting: Insights into the EMS response

EMS leaders at Pinnacle Conference were briefed on Dallas Fire-Rescue and hospital response to the shootings

SAN ANTONIO ― Dr. Marshal Isaacs, medical director, and Norman Seals, assistant chief of EMS, Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, described the response to the July 7 active shooter incident which targeted Dallas police officers to attendees at the Pinnacle EMS Leadership conference.

During their brief presentation, Seals and Isaacs shared the 2-alarm EMS response which sent six ambulances to the scene and the distribution of critically injured police officers to Parkland hospital. A single gunman shot and killed five Dallas police officers. Seven police officers and two bystanders were also shot and injured during a protest of officer-involved shootings.

Memorable Quotes from Seals and Isaacs
Seals spoke of the uncertainty of responding to a rapidly unfolding incident, the collaborative approach of the unified command, his pride of how personnel responded and his concern for the long-term impact of the incident on responder wellbeing. Here are three memorable quotes from Seals about the EMS response to the Dallas shooting.

A Dallas ambulance and police car are stationed outside the ER.
A Dallas ambulance and police car are stationed outside the ER. (AP Image)

"First in medics had reporting of a shooting, but didn't realize what it was until they were on scene."

"For our medics we know this will have a long-lasting impact."

"Every critical incident adds a grain of sand to your soul. An event like this dumps a handful of sand onto the load you are already carrying."

Isaacs also shared his pride in the prehospital response as well as the compassionate and professional care given to injured police officers at Parkland hospital. He also discussed the impact of the incident on Parkland staff, as well as how EMS leaders share the responsibility to learn and move forward from the incident. Here are two memorable quotes.

"At Parkland seven patients (received from the incident), with three deaths is a lot to bear. I am an optimist. I believe good will come of this."

"EMS has risen to meet the challenges. We can do more. I am looking out at the leaders in this nation. Let's lead."

Key takeaways on medical response to Dallas police shooting
Seals and Isaacs only had 15 minutes to address the Pinnacle audience, and the after-action analysis of the incident is just beginning.

  • Emergency care systems are already at or near capacity. At the time of the incident Parkland hospital had 200 patients inside the emergency department and another 90 patients were in the waiting room. Parkland and other hospitals quickly readied to receive and treat the police officers with major traumatic injuries while also continuing normal patient operations.
  • Medics may go above and beyond. Seals shared that two Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulances went in under fire ― into the hot zone with police ― to retrieve injured police officers.
  • Incident is having a nationwide impact. Seals and Isaacs have received condolences, prayers and questions from their EMS and emergency medicine colleagues across the United States. In the first week after the incident their focus was on the funerals and the rapid or immediate traumatic stress debriefing. In the second week, the focus has widened to in-depth after action analysis and initiating longer-term response to traumatic stress.

Finally, Seals and Isaacs shared their concern that the world has changed and that fire and EMS personnel are a named target for perpetrators of violence. They encouraged EMS leaders to renew their focus to active shooter preparedness and training, as well as acquisition and use of EMS body armor, tourniquets and hemostatic agents.

Learn more about the Dallas shooting

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