Newtown’s first responders: ‘There’s nothing we could do’

Obama honored responders’ efforts in his address on Sunday

Topics: Mortality, Quality, Performance Improvement, Safety

December 18, 2012

When paramedics first arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning, they were prepared to save lives and care for the wounded—but they never got the chance.

After last week's tragic shooting, first responders were at the Newtown, Conn., school within minutes of a 9-1-1 call placed at 9:30 a.m. They immediately began setting up a first triage area for major injuries and a second triage area for the walking wounded, according to Sandy Hook Village Fire Chief Bill Halstead.

EMT Roger Connor became the emergency services coordinator when he arrived on the scene. He began organizing ambulance crews and readying teams to transport the wounded to local hospitals. But, as time passed and no more victims emerged, the first responders began to realize the enormity of the massacre.

"Unfortunately, we only got to work on two people instead of 26 that we maybe could have helped," Halstead told "Good Morning America."

Finally, police announced there would be no more victims requiring medical assistance.

"I think that's the toughest part, is we're trained to do this and we wanted people," Karin Halstead said, a Sandy Hook EMS captain and Bill Halstead's daughter. "We wanted to take care of people and keep them alive and there's nothing we could do,” she added.

President Obama honored their efforts when he spoke at a vigil on Sunday night, saying that the "good guys" did come, as one teacher had promised her class.

"The first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm's way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and trauma because they had a job to do, and others needed them more," Obama said (Karar, ABC News, 12/17; Evers, Fox News NY, 12/17; Pirro, Connecticut News Times, 12/17; Karimi, CNN, 12/18).

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