UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — On Tuesday afternoon, the entire 38-member Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department got called to Robb Elementary School.
“At the moment of the call they all dropped what they were doing and they responded to the scene,” said Chief Mario Rangel.
Volunteer firefighters all have day jobs, so many were at work outside the fire station when that call came in.
Rangel was at work at the local radio station when the shooting happened. But he was at Robb Elementary before tragedy struck.
“Just that morning, I was at the school attending my daughter’s award ceremony,” he said. “Then after I went back to work, my phone rang that there was a possible shooting at the school. When I turned on my radio, I heard the dispatcher advise what was taking place. I arrived to see parents coming to the scene just like I was. At that moment, it was a little difficult because I had to resume the duties of a fire chief… and also not knowing where my daughter was.”
His daughter survived and did not get hurt.
“It’s actually quite personal,” he said about the mass shooting. The department is tightly involved in the community – as firefighters, part of the workforce and as neighbors.
“I can’t begin to say how proud I am of them,” he said. “They manned their posts and intersections and created that in-and-out [road] that I believe led to saving lives.”
Chief Rangel says the fire department’s primary job after the shooting was to clear traffic to let ambulances and medical helicopters through.
“We continue to follow through with our responsibilities,” he said. “Sadly, this tragedy struck our community.“
The Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department is collecting money for victims and their families through several means. They’ve set up a Go Fund Me page, and a CashApp account ($UvaldeFireDepartment). They’re also donating all proceeds of the Memorial Day Weekend Golf Tournament Fundraiser. If anyone wishes to send a check, they can write them out to “Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department” and mail them to 123 south Getty St., Uvalde, TX, 78801.
“To use however they deem necessary,” said fire department president R. Patrick Williams. “We’re talking about paying the water bill, filling the fridge with groceries. This families aren’t going to be working and they need help and we want to get it to them as fast as we can.”