INDIANAPOLIS — As Mr. Rogers says, you always want to "look for the helpers" when something scary happens, and this story features a lot of people who helped save lives during the FedEx mass shooting.
WRTV spoke with the Decatur Township Fire Department Ladder 71 team about being some of the first responders to the scene last Thursday.
“No one expects this to happen. The day that they wake up, or drive to work, including us, I suppose,” said Firefighter Jacob Humphrey.
Each person on the team has at least 16 years of experience with this department, and none of them had ever seen a mass tragedy quite this big before.
“(The scene) rapidly started to escalate on the way there, and once we got there, we saw that we had more people shot,” said Lt Scott McCaughna.
Eight people were killed, but these first responders provided hope and help to many of those who were injured.
“Anxiety, scared, maybe relief, unbelief … Yeah,” said Humphrey.
The disbelief of the situation met the preparation of their medical skills and training.
“Came to a patient that had suffered an injury, we triaged him, labeled him as green and stable, quickly banded up his wounds, and then waited for the next patient to come along,” said Humphrey.
They found the injured, assessed how hurt they were, treated them, and got them to the correct hospital.
“We located our live patients, and we were able to move them off the scene, and in less than 60 minutes,” said Assistant Chief Chuck Valentine.
The trauma is still fresh, but everyone agreed they felt safe with the equipment that everyone wore, including ballistic vests and helmets that they just got in 2020.
The vests help protect against gunshots even from a rifle, like the one recovered at the scene.
“The training kicks in and then it's afterward it kind of sinks in ... What had happened,” said Valentine.
The team’s work didn’t stop that night either, with at least two more emergency runs after FedEx.
“So, I was very proud of what these guys did,” said Valentine.
That pride is shared now nationwide.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls from people all over the United States to check on us,” said McCaughna.
To them, it’s all in a day’s work. “That's what we're here for. That's why we're here, is to take care of your emergency,” said Valentine.
Now, it’s the bond between each other that’s helping with the healing process, after serving on the front lines of a major tragedy for Indianapolis.
“It's definitely our family, for sure,” said McCaughna.
“It hit close to home. In this situation, the department has been wonderful with the peer support, and just the support that we've been given that way and from the community,” said Humphrey.
These first responders are there for some of the lowest moments in the community.More Stories on the FedEx Mass Shooting: The Facts: What we know about the deadly mass shooting at an Indy FedEx facility | Timeline: Deadly mass shooting at FedEx facility in Indy | These are their faces: The victims of the FedEx mass shooting | Brandon Hole: What we know about the Indy FedEx mass shooter | Funeral plans for Indianapolis FedEx shooting victims | Marion Co. Prosecutor describes Red Flag status of FedEx mass shooter | Police union president blasts Marion County prosecutor for not using red flag law against FedEx assailant | IMPD observed white supremacist websites on FedEx shooting suspect's computer in 2020 | Calls for stricter gun legislation in Indiana following FedEx mass shooting | How Indiana's Jake Laird Law works | Mental health experts urge Hoosiers who are hurting after the FedEx shooting to seek help | Reminder: What you should do in an active shooter situation