EDIT: That's (technically) all the time we have for today, but we'll do our best to answer as many remaining questions as we can in the next hours and days. Thank you all for the fantastic questions and please continue to follow our coverage and support our journalism. We can't do these investigations without reader support.

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/uovv07vannca1.jpg

Law enforcement’s well-documented failure to confront the shooter who terrorized Robb Elementary for 77 minutes was the most serious problem in getting victims timely care, experts say.   

But previously unreleased records, obtained by The Washington Post, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica, for the first time show that communication lapses and muddled lines of authority among medical responders further hampered treatment.  

The chaotic scene exemplified the flawed medical response — captured in video footage, investigative documents, interviews and radio traffic — that experts said undermined the chances of survival for some victims of the May 24 massacre. Two teachers and 19 students died.  

Ask reporters Lomi Kriel (ProPublica), Zach Despart (Texas Tribune), Joyce Lee (Washington Post) and Sarah Cahlan (Washington Post) anything.

Read the full story from all three newsrooms who contributed reporting to this investigative piece:

Texas Tribune: https://www.texastribune.org/2022/12/20/uvalde-medical-response/

ProPublica: https://www.propublica.org/article/uvalde-emt-medical-response

The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2022/uvalde-shooting-victims-delayed-response/

Comments: 371 • Responses: 9  • Date: 

Neusbaum615 karma

If approved/allowed/requested by the parent(s), would you suggest releasing the pictures of the victims to ensure the reality of what happened is not dulled/muted?

My historical link would be the bravery of Emmett Till's mother to display her sons body to ensure all who saw knew what occurred. I have always felt this act was one of a few key moments that served as a tipping point of our nation's history.

washingtonpost147 karma

From Sarah Cahlan:

This is a really important question. One thing we aim to do is make sure people have a choice in what content they consume. So, when publishing graphic visuals we don’t loop videos, add a graphic slate to the beginning of the video and create a share image that is not graphic.

EmDashoclock182 karma

Obviously, there were a lot of aspects of the police and medical response that leaves us surprised, saddened, and frustrated. But you guys have presumably spent a lot more time thinking about this than those of us in the public. What aspects of your investigation did you find most surprising?

washingtonpost353 karma

From Sarah Cahlan:

Yes, there were a lot of surprising finds. First thing that comes to mind is how flaws in the response to Uvalde happened at other shootings. It’s quite jarring to read action report after action report outlining the same failures. When we told one expert that the streets were blocked and ambulances couldn’t get through, he said that’s common.

Iamatworkgoaway104 karma

Do you know of any politicians that have any good plans for fixing the chain of command issues that arose? Plans with budgets and timelines that is, not just well wishes and thoughts?

washingtonpost144 karma

From Sarah Cahlan:

Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, chain of command issues is a persistent problem at mass casualty events. In several cases, the communication problems resulted in delays in getting medical treatment to victims. A Justice Department review of the response to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people found that the police and fire departments’ decision to operate separate command posts for hours led to a lack of coordination. Experts told us an effective response to mass casualty events depends largely on the area’s policies, level of training and coordination between departments, all of which vary across the country.

lorddoa96 karma

I don't often see different news sources working together so I'm curious if the reason y'all combined forces was because of the drastic decrease in the number of investigative journalists following the demise of print (and slow) media or something else?

Also, do y'all see joining forces being a common thing in the future?

washingtonpost44 karma

From Sarah Cahlan:

We were really excited to collaborate on this story. Joyce, Imogen and I work on a team at The Post called Visual Forensics where we focus on sourcing, verifying and analyzing visuals. Whenever we can, we try to partner with teams that have a coverage area expertise since our focus is more on the forensic side.

Conditional-Sausage57 karma

Hi there! I'm a paramedic, it's interesting to see an analysis of this shooting. I really enjoy reading the after-action reports for Mass Casualty Incidents because it's consistently one of the things that the fewer systems or providers are prepared for. There's definitely a tendency for folks to say "ah, that can't/won't happen here". As a side question, is there an after action report available for Uvalde?

This reads to me like a bungled application of the Incident Command System, which seems to be like it's largely the responsibility of the organizations involved for not being familiar with using ICS. A well-implemented ICS definitely helps to lubricate inter-agency operations because it helps each service be aware of what they need to do to help each other. In my opinion, the Las Vegas shooting or the Boston Bombing is a really great example of ICS in action. So here's the question:

Do you agree that this is largely a training issue? And since a lot of rural EMS and Fire resources are volunteer, what do you think can be done to improve mass casualty incident training?

washingtonpost28 karma

From Joyce Lee:

Thank you for this question! I would point you to two reports that are out so far — the first from the Texas State House: https://house.texas.gov/_media/pdf/committees/reports/87interim/Robb-Elementary-Investigative-Committee-Report.pdf

and this one (although we noted a few factual errors here) from ALERRT: https://alerrt.org/r/31

Many of the experts we spoke to said that regular, joint trainings is key to an effective response, and they agreed with your assessment that what happened with the response at Robb seemed first and foremost to be a failure in incident command. As you also note, Uvalde is in a rural area, trainings are overall quite costly and resources are limited. Still, Border Patrol and other agencies are regularly in Uvalde because it’s so close to the Mexico border, and local agencies in the area have mutual aid agreements in place. We found some Facebook posts about active shooter trainings that the Uvalde School District Police officers actually hosted but didn’t get responses from CBP about whether they trained with them on mass casualty events. The other factor too is the significant distance between a rural town and a Trauma 1 level center hospital. In this case, Uvalde was a 90 minute drive (or a 45 minute helicopter ride) away from San Antonio. Of course in areas like Boston and Las Vegas, there are more resources for regular trainings and many well-equipped hospitals nearby. I would echo what Lomi said above - that we should be thinking of ways to help smaller counties pay for training - and I hope our story can help bring some awareness to how vital it is.

bluestat133151 karma

What steps, if any, were taken to prepare for any possible victims during the 70 minutes the police were waiting outside? It seems like everyone is passing the blame onto someone else. Was there any explanation for why only 2 ambulances were outside?

washingtonpost117 karma

From Joyce Lee:

Body cameras show first responders setting up a triage area inside the school, advising officers in the hallway to open medical kits and calling for medics to standby. There were actually 3 ambulances at the school prior to the shooting, but one left carrying a wounded teacher from Room 109 around 25 minutes before the breach. More ambulances were stationed nearby but were delayed in reaching the school because the streets were crammed with law enforcement vehicles.

Beautiful_Bacon211221 karma

I know good journalists report facts, not conjecture or emotions. But what are your feelings on this story?

washingtonpost41 karma

From Sarah Cahlan:

This was a really hard story to report. As you noted, we have to stick to the facts and not let our feelings get in the way. But we are human. We spent a lot of time working on how to approach the materials in a way that didn’t sacrifice our mental health - we didn’t always succeed but we’re still learning. We spent weeks reviewing horrific footage. We talked to grieving families and listened to hours of investigator interviews. The reporting brought on strong feelings. I was frustrated when medics told investigators they were pleading to help. I was angry when the same response failures we saw in past shootings happened again in Uvalde. I was devastated to see medics attempting to save lives even when the police delay and command failures narrowed their chances. Even though we each experienced complex feelings, we believed in the importance of the story and always let the evidence lead the reporting.

darkness86316 karma

What, if any, consequences can the public expect regarding the investigation into the poor overall response?

Seems like everyone agrees this is a fuck up, why is it so unclear who was in charge?

washingtonpost22 karma

From Joyce Lee:

We can’t predict what the consequences of these investigations into the law enforcement’s response will be, but it’s important to note that often times law enforcement agencies are investigating themselves. In terms of why it’s unclear who was in charge, there were nearly 400 law enforcement officers there and agencies from the local, state and federal level. There weren’t clear modes of communication — for example, the school district police chief Pete Arredondo didn’t have a radio on him — and officers were on opposite sides of the building, exacerbating the issue. It also has to do with different standards of policies and trainings, i.e. according to an agency’s training, who is typically the incident commander in mass casualty events? Is it the first responding officer? The highest ranking? All of this together makes for a very confusing chain of command!

dereliqueME7 karma

How much of your reporting came from radio scanner traffic that would have been archived after the actual incident?

washingtonpost12 karma

From Joyce Lee:

So on May 24, I was listening to radio scanner traffic archived by Broadcastify from Uvalde EMS and Uvalde Fire. This audio helped us confirm some of the frustrations of the medic — that they were stuck behind law enforcement vehicles and felt they didn’t have clear access to the site — and at the time, gave me some loose ideas of the time frame around the shooting. In terms of police radio scanner traffic, we had to somewhat piece that together by transcribing what we heard in body camera videos and later by combing through transcripts that we obtained. The audio and transcripts gave us a lot of helpful details. We learned a great deal about who arrived when, bringing what, where helicopters were, who knew what details from the 911 calls, etc.