Off-duty Ind. FF-medic, Md. medic jump in to help after New Orleans shooting
Justin Tallman stayed with a patient until New Orleans EMS providers arrived and said local police established a perimeter quickly
By David Kronke
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Terre Haute firefighter-paramedic Justin Tallman didn't let the fact that he was on vacation get in the way of doing his job of helping save people.
Tallman and a college buddy were in New Orleans over the weekend staying at a hostel. The hostel set up a tent along Sunday night's Bacchus parade route and he was enjoying the festivities when gunfire rang out.
"The streets were packed — hundreds and hundreds of people — so I didn't see anything, I heard several loud pops that I had a feeling were gunshots," Tallman said Tuesday evening at Terre Haute Station 7, speaking after going on seven runs that day.
"Everybody was scattering, and folks were running and diving on the ground."
Tallman grabbed a woman from the hostel and got her to the ground and covered her up. After the shots stopped, he asked a paramedic from Maryland who he had just met if he wanted to assist him in looking for injured people; the two headed down the street.
"I probably didn't make it more than 20 yards down the road and I saw a [22-year-old woman] sitting on the ground and I believe it was a police officer who had already gotten to her and pulled a tourniquet up on her leg — she had a gunshot on her leg," Tallman recalled. "He was tightening it so I grabbed the rod and helped tighten it."
Fire Chief Bill Berry has said Tallman was a modest fellow, and Tallman proved it by saying, "The officer had already done the hard part — it was already in place. I didn't have a tourniquet on me."
Afterward, he and the Maryland paramedic conducted a full-body trauma assessment, ensuring that the woman hadn't been shot anywhere else without realizing it.
"She was somewhat in shock, and after that, it was just sitting there with her talking with her until [Emergency Medical Services] got there," Tallman said. He characterized the conversation as small talk, light-hearted chit-chat such as "I know that's scary, but hey, this'll be a cool story for you one of these days."
Tallman credited the New Orleans police with swiftly establishing a perimeter and quickly capturing a man they believed to be the shooter.
"Officers were everywhere," he said.
The shooting, which received national attention, resulted in one dead teenager and four other people with injuries, including a 4-year-old girl.
The four injured people were released from local hospitals after receiving treatment. Police arrested a 21-year-old man and recovered two weapons at the scene.
Tallman, who joined the department in May of 2021, said that the only similarly dramatic incident he could remember handling on his actual job occurred a few weeks ago with a badly beaten victim.
"We had to do what we call 'doing everything,'" he said. "He couldn't protect his own airway, so we had to intubate him. Heavy trauma, a lot of blood coming from his head, he was unconscious.
"They didn't think he was going to make it, but last I heard, he's making his recovery in Indy now," Tallman added.
Tallman became a paramedic and firefighter, he said, because, "I never wanted a career where I didn't feel like I was helping people. I've never wanted to do a job that was just a job."
Chief Berry said, "Tallman was doing what all of our firefighters do. Someone needed help and he was there to uphold his duty to act. This selfless act by one of our own deserves recognition."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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