‘I think I’ve been hit’: NC paramedic recalls getting shot on call

Wake County Paramedic Ben Rothermel and his crew members ran for cover with their pediatric patient when the gunshots started


By Rachel Engel

RALEIGH, N.C. — A paramedic who was shot at a Juneteenth event while responding to a call describes the chaos of the situation and his experience in the aftermath.

Wake County EMS Paramedic Ben Rothermel was part of a crew responding to a call of a young boy who had fallen off a swing at a park and was hurt. Rothermel and his fellow providers had assessed the child and were preparing to load him into the ambulance when they heard gunshots.

“We all heard bullets whistling by,” Rothermel said in an interview with WRAL. “There was a playground nearby, and we could hear bullets ringing off the playground equipment.”

The EMS crew ran for cover, and were able to get the boy to safety, but Rothermel was struck by a bullet.

“I kind of yelled out, ‘I think I’ve been hit’ and [another paramedic] looked at my wrist,” he said.

Luckily, the bullet had lodged in the military-grade nylon belt Rothermel was wearing at the time. He was taken to the hospital, but the bullet only caused bruising. He returned to work after a week off to process the incident.

“There was a higher power looking out for me,” he told WRAL. “Mere centimeters [higher or lower] and I would have been in a very different predicatment.”

Law enforcement officials estimate between 20-30 gunshots were fired. No one else was injured in the shooting, but the Wake County ambulance was hit.

“I commend the crew that did this because they were able to get to safety with the child being unharmed,” said Brian Brooks, assistant chief of Wake County EMS. “I couldn’t imagine having to deal with that in this situation.”

Two men were charged in the shooting; one remains in jail and the other is out on bond.

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