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Report: Delays and confusion slowed Uvalde medical response

December 20, 2022 GMT

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Ambulances in short supply, police cars blocking access for medical vehicles and helicopters with critical blood supplies stationed miles away from Robb Elementary all delayed life-saving care for victims in the Uvalde, Texas school massacre, according to a report published Tuesday.

New records obtained by The Texas Tribune, ProPublica and The Washington Post about the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary that left 19 students and two teachers dead show a delayed medical response to the shooting due to confusion and blocked roadways and entrances.

The records shed new light on the medical delays of that day, adding to the scrutiny facing local, state and federal officials over the botched response to the shooting after officers waited 77 minutes to confront the gunman.

According to the news outlets, helicopters carrying critical supplies of blood were told by an unidentified fire department official to wait at a nearby airport instead of landing at the school. Though available, no helicopters were used to carry victims from the scene and dozens of police vehicles parked along the roadways made it difficult for ambulances to reach victims.

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Some law enforcement cars were left locked and could not quickly be moved, forcing medics to frantically try various routes to the school, crisscrossing through residents’ yards.

Though two ambulances were outside of the Texas elementary school where a gunman rampaged inside, it was not enough for the 10 gunshot victims still alive.

33 minutes after police waited more than an hour to confront and kill the gunman, one ambulance was still struggling to reach the school, according to the Tribune.

The records show that three of the victims pulled from the school had a pulse and later died, two of whom did not have critical resources available to them when it was expected there would be. Another victim survived an hour after she was shot, and was placed in an ambulance after medics finally accessed the classroom but died during transport. Six other students, including one who was seriously wounded, were transported to a hospital in a school bus without trained medical staff, according to Texas EMS records reviewed by the news organizations.

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Because autopsy reports have yet to be released, it remains unclear whether any of the victims could have survived had the emergency response been different. However, some experts told the news outlets that at least one victim — teacher Eva Mireles, who was shot in the first few minutes of the attack — may have had survivable injuries since she was conscious and responsive when she was found. Records show that while Mireles was initially treated at the scene because an ambulance was not immediately accessible, a decision was made not to take her to the hospital. She later died in an ambulance that never left school grounds.

Another teacher, Elsa Avila, who was in a classroom a few doors from Mireles’, told The Associated Press in September that she was shot in the first rounds of gunfire. Avila was pulled from her classroom window an hour later and survived.

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An investigation into the response to the attack remains ongoing by the Texas Rangers, an arm of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The results will be reviewed by the Uvalde County District Attorney, Christina Mitchell Busbee, who is investigating the response to the incident and could decide to bring criminal charges to any responding officials.