Rural-Metro paramedics say Pulse tragedy brought them closer together

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Paramedics at Orange County's Rural-Metro ambulance service, who helped after the Pulse shooting, spoke with Channel 9 for the first time since the attack.

The paramedics talked about how they coped as they carried patients down the street and drove them to Orlando Regional Medical Center’s ER.

Rural-Metro's first ambulance arrived at Pulse at 2:05 a.m. on June 12, and paramedics were en route to ORMC with their first patient by 2:22 a.m.

Rural-Metro had eight ambulances going back and forth and carried 14 of the people who were shot to the hospital.

Paramedics said the tragedy brought them closer as health care professionals, but many of them are struggling on a personal level.

Many first response agencies have brought in counselors for their employees.

 

"This event was, it was something we prepare for, and we hope we never have happen," said Tom Diaz of Rural-Metro.

Rural-Metro said it wants to see the paramedics and EMTs heal along with the community.

"This is something that sticks with you, and I can tell you that I've started to see unity even more than we had before within our department and outside the department with the other EMS agencies," Larry Marshall of Rural-Metro said.

Rural-Metro has “mass casualty incident training” at least once a year, and this year’s training was just a few months ago.

 

"In our system, in March of this year, we actually trained for an event like this," said Larry Marshall of Rural-Metro.

A fictional situation involving 550 patients, and first responders from across Central Florida.

"It actually was a shooting. The same type that we had," Marshall said.

The paramedics described the Pulse shooting as the worst emergency they had ever seen.

"I really couldn't tell you. You just go into almost robot mode. You know you have a job to do. You don't think about anything else. It's just, you just do it," said Lucas Slowik of Rural-Metro. "You can't take every single call with you. Otherwise it will eat you."

Slowik’s boss said the team hurts on every level.

"Being a resident of Orlando since 1968, this is tragic, and it hurts all of us as citizens," said Slowik.