From The Texas Tribune:
Warning note: This story includes graphic descriptions of injuries sustained in an elementary school shooting and graphic language. Graphic videos reviewed by reporters are not included.
This article is co-published with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power, and with The Washington Post. Sign up for newsletters from ProPublica and The Post.
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UVALDE — Bullets had pierced Eva Mireles’ chest as she tried to shield students from a gunman’s semiautomatic rifle. But the fourth grade teacher at Robb Elementary was still conscious when police carried her out of classroom 112 and through a hallway crowded with dead and dying victims.
“You’re fine. You’re fine,” said her husband, Uvalde school district police officer Ruben Ruiz, who had been frantically trying to rescue her since the attack began. Mireles looked at him but could not speak. She’d been losing blood for more than an hour.
Officers placed Mireles on the sidewalk just beyond one of the school’s exits and started treating her wounds. A medic later told investigators he did not see any ambulances, though video footage showed two parked just past the corner of the building, about 100 feet away.
The chaotic scene exemplified the flawed medical response — captured in video footage, investigative documents, interviews and radio traffic — that experts said undermined the chances of survival for some victims of the May 24 massacre. Two teachers and 19 students died.
Law enforcement’s well-documented failure to confront the shooter who terrorized the school for 77 minutes was the most serious problem in getting victims timely care, experts said. But previously unreleased records obtained by The Texas Tribune, ProPublica and The Washington Post for the first time show that communication lapses and muddled lines of authority among medical responders further hampered treatment.
Three victims who emerged from the school with a pulse later died. In the case of two of those victims, critical resources were not available when medics expected they would be, delaying hospital treatment for Mireles, 44, and student Xavier Lopez, 10, records show.
Another student, Jacklyn “Jackie” Cazares, 9, likely survived for more than an hour after being shot and was promptly placed in an ambulance after medics finally gained access to her classroom. She died in transport.
The disjointed medical response frustrated medics while delaying efforts to get ambulances, air transport and other emergency services to victims. Medical helicopters with critical supplies of blood tried to land at the school, but an unidentified fire department official told them to wait at an airport 3 miles away. Dozens of parked police vehicles blocked the paths of ambulances trying to reach victims.
Multiple cameras worn by officers and one on the dashboard of a police car showed just two ambulances positioned outside the school when the shooter was killed. That was not nearly enough for the 10 or more gunshot victims then still alive, though additional ambulances began arriving 10 minutes later. Six students, including one who was seriously wounded, were taken to a hospital in a school bus with no trained medics on board, according to Texas EMS records.