FONTANA (CBSLA.com) — The first paramedic to arrive on scene at last week’s massacre at the Inland Regional Center is also a SWAT team member.
In fact, Ryan Starling is the only SWAT medic in San Bernardino County.
CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold sat down with Starling on Wednesday to ask him what he saw and what he did.
Amidst the carnage and the chaos, one man was not only tasked with securing the area and going in, he was also trying to help the victims — as many as he could.
“We do that by checking their pulse,” said Starling, “we look at their skin color. We look at the way their respirations are. Are they fast, are they slow? And we’re doing all that in the matter of five to 10 seconds. So that way we can do the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.”
He said the scene was, understandably, tense. He could hear screaming and moaning. He said the smell of gunpowder was still hanging in the air.
“I remember walking through the front doors,” Starling said. “It was, it was horrific. Horrific. The sprinklers were coming down, water was coming down from the sprinkler pipe. Because there was so many victims, there was a little bit of a trail of blood from water that was washing out. I remember having to walk back and forth through that.”
Despite the horror, he channeled his training and walked quickly and methodically to each patient.
Starling and the other first responders had to quickly determine who was alive and how badly they were injured. He marked the deceased with a piece of tape.
“There was extreme chaos,” Starling recalls. “There were officers coming in, coming out. There were multiple victims down.”
Starling and his fellow team members were ready to go when the call came in. They were actually rehearsing for an active shooter situation when the call came in. They quickly changed out blanks for real bullets. They then made their way to the Inland Regional Center.