Tactical paramedics saved lives in Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting


Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting command post area

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Tactical response paramedics are just some of the unsung heroes in the Nov. 27 shooting in Colorado Springs.

Swarms of armed officers, heavy police equipment and hundreds of first responders tried to stabilize the scene around Planned Parenthood, where an active shooter was on the loose.

Inside, innocent victims lay suffering from gunshot wounds, some trapped and in need of immediate medical care.

“The majority of time you don’t register exactly what’s going on.  You rely on your training and you act before you even think at times.  You’re rendering aid,” Chuck Long said.

Long and members of the Colorado Springs Fire Department’s tactical emergency medical response unit were there.

“This is our tactical medical vest.  We wear this anytime we go into a hot zone,” Long said.

TEMS means they are suited like SWAT members.

“We got our rifle plates, both sides, front and back. Tourniquets, gas mask and other medical equipment that we would carry on this,” Long said.

But instead of guns, they go in armed with medical supplies.

“The leg bag consists of our tourniquets, combat gauze and some BLS type airways,” Long said.

The team can’t talk specifics, but during the shooting, backed by members of Colorado Springs police officers and El Paso County sheriff’s deputies, the tactical paramedics pulled victims from the “hot zone.”

“When there’s a hostile situation or a situation where somebody is critically injured and bleeding heavily one of the biggest things that we do is be able to stop that bleeding,” Lt. Kurt Dennison said. “We trust each other 100 percent."

Their heroic actions in the mass causality situation no doubt saved lives

“We are able to do some things quicker and faster that makes a difference in the outcome of patient care,” Dennison said. “For us on the TEMS unit, its not a matter of the number of people who are injured, we take one life at a time and we take it very seriously.”

In Colorado Springs, the TEMS unit has been around since 1993.  It responds to about 120 calls every year. Doctors say if the unit gets to a patient quick enough and stop the bleeding, they can increase a patients survival by up to 90 percent.

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