‘We need more units!’ Police audio highlights APD response to mass shooting

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Audio from scanners highlight Austin police officers’ response to the mass shooting in downtown that killed a 25-year-old man and left at least 13 other people injured early Saturday morning.

Austin Police Department Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the first 911 call reporting gunshots came in just before 1:30 a.m. on 6th Street near Trinity Street. Police have so far identified two suspects in the shooting.

Large, pre-pandemic-sized crowds on 6th Street at the time of the shooting made it difficult for Austin-Travis County EMS and Austin Fire Department crews to reach the area.

A four-minute excerpt of scanner audio taken between 1 and 1:35 a.m. captured officers yelling to leave a path for EMS.

“Officers in cars, do not block the road… EMS can’t get in here, leave a path for EMS,” one officer said.

During this time, police played a big role in providing medical aid and applying tourniquets to victims, according to Chacon.

Chacon described officers using their first aid kits, giving CPR to victims, carrying victims away from the scene and using their patrol cars to take six victims to the hospital.

“At least three additional leg wounds, applying tourniquets now,” one officer said.

“We have eight shooting victims, 1 CPR in progress,” another officer said.

Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of some of the communication that was exchanged between officers just as the scene was unfolding overnight.

  • 0:04 – “Additional units down here from citywide”
  • 0:18 – “We need more units, we need a lot more units down here”
  • 0:33 – “Everyone is coming to you guys”
  • 0:52 – “At least three additional leg wounds, applying tourniquets now”
  • 1:11 – “Until we get more units down here, we need more units”
  • 2:14 – “Officers in cars, do not block the road, cause EMS can’t get in here, leave a path for EMS”
  • 2:23 – “We have 8 shooting victims, 1 CPR in progress”
  • 2:26 – “CPR in progress, 8 victims”
  • 2:57 – “6th Street, do not block 6th street”
  • 3:43 – “Let EMS in”
  • 3:49 – “6th and Red River, let EMS in”
  • 3:54 – “Bring ’em in, bring ’em in”
  • 4:04 – “6th and Red River, don’t let nobody else in but EMS”
  • 4:18 – “6th and Neches is open, 6th and Neches is open”
  • 4:46 – “Entry point for all ambulances, 6th and Neches, entry point for all ambulances”

What is an ‘active attack’?

When shots first rang out on 6th Street early Saturday morning, ATCEMS tweeted it was an “active attack” to alert those nearby to avoid the area.

In a social media post Saturday evening, ATCEMS explained what an active attack is and how its units typically respond to them.

“An active attack incident is defined as an individual(s) who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated or confined space,” ATCEMS said.

The agency said in most cases, the attacker is using a gun and doesn’t have a method or selection as to who they’re targeting.

An active attack has three phases for first responders, ATCEMS said.

  1. Stop the Killing – responsibility of law enforcement
  2. Stop the Dying – responsibility of ATCEMS and Fire Department
  3. Rapid Casualty Evacuation – responsibility of ATCEMS

For an active attack, ATCEMS explained it immediately dispatches the five closest ambulances, five district commanders and five admins ALS – Active Shooter Response Capability.

These are safeguards in case the attack turns into a mass casualty incident (MCI), which is when EMS is overwhelmed by the number of victims and casualties.

ATCEMS said it’s important to implement lucrative plans within the first five minutes of an incident to be successful for the coming hours. Training is essential in preparing for these types of events.

The agency said its personnel along with Austin Fire and Austin Police trained for an event such as this at Camp Mabry in late April of this year.

According to a timeline of events ATCEMS put out on social media, five ambulances and five district commanders were assigned by 1:32 a.m. for the mass shooting — approximately eight minutes after the first 911 calls came in. A total of seven ambulances were assigned to the scene by 2 a.m.

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