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EMS1 Exclusive: Behind the scenes of Ferguson’s mayhem

EMS1 video producer Ray Kemp was ‘sickened’ watching buildings burn to the ground


EMS1 video producer Ray Kemp, embedded with fire and EMS, captured this as he and bystanders watched buildings burn in Ferguson, Mo.

Image Ray Kemp

EMS1 video producer Ray Kemp was in shock after witnessing violent protests last night in Ferguson, following the grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.

“I never expected to watch buildings burn one after another,” Ray Kemp reported by phone from Ferguson, Mo. “I could not believe what I was filming. It was sickening to watch.”

EMS1 crew embedded with fire and EMS

The EMS1 camera crew is embedded, with permission, at the command center and has been responding with fire and EMS. Crews filmed the firefighters beginning suppression efforts

“When the first fire call came in we followed the fire task force down the road,” Kemp said. Ferguson firefighters, with police cover, followed their recently updated SOG and training to drop the hoseline as soon as a quick knockdown was achieved.

“From our position on West Florissant, we watched the firefighters disconnect and leave hoses lying in the streets,” Kemp said.

When gunfire escalated, as seen is this video, the EMS1 camera crew took cover behind their vehicle. Gunfire was close and aimed at the police line they were positioned with. At that point buildings were left to burn as “there was too much gunfire and the firefighters were clearly at risk,” Kemp said.

EMS protected and ready to assist

Despite the prevalence of gunfire and numerous structure fires, the EMS1 camera crew did not have a chance to embed with an ambulance crew or EMS task force.

“My understanding is that there were injuries, but EMS was not overwhelmed,” Kemp said. “I am glad no first responders were injured.”

Paramedics were prepared with additional PPE last night.

“EMS personnel were wearing blue bullet proof vests and B2 helmets,” he said. Head protection is especially important as one of the biggest risks for EMS personnel is head and facial injury from thrown objects, like bricks and bottles.

Far from over

Kemp expects the unrest to continue for many days. He said Fire, EMS, and law enforcement are anticipating and preparing for the violence to continue; possibly even escalating in the days and nights ahead.

“What we saw last night was very similar to the first night of protests in August,” he said.

If the August pattern repeats itself, emergency responders should expect relatively peaceful daytime protests. The EMS1 camera crew is preparing for another busy night because Kemp expects “violence to be much more likely when darkness falls.”

“It is an honor,” he said, “for us to be embedded with our emergency responders.”