Records from internal investigation highlight 'overwhelming radio traffic', how to do better

1 month 1 day 12 hours ago Tuesday, July 14 2020 Jul 14, 2020 Tuesday, July 14, 2020 12:24:00 PM CDT July 14, 2020 in News
By: Leah Vredenbregt and Greta Serrin, KOMU 8 Digital Producers & Kaleigh Feldkamp, Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA - Records from a July 9 joint meeting between Columbia area first responders show details for how EMS crews will respond to active scenes.

The meeting came after a shooting on Volunteer Drive killed two people and injured three others on July 5, according to KOMU 8 reporting on the scene of the incident.

In an internal investigation of the response, a joint statement revealed scanner traffic was unheard by some responders. In the statement, "The request for medics by law enforcement was not relayed as expected," according to KOMU 8 reporting on the statement.

The meeting with first responders was part of an internal investigation after the double homicide.

Tara Knedler, 38, and 11-year-old Ri’ajauhna, whose last name was withheld at her family’s request, both died. A 40-year-old woman, a 22-year-old man and another woman whose age is unknown suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Police Chief Geoff Jones said at a news conference after the shootings.

The Monday statement from the City of Columbia and other local agencies revealed during the incident on Volunteer drive, EMS personnel were staged and waiting for direct communication and the words "scene stable", which would indicate the scene was secure and they could enter.

Listen to parts of the scanner traffic the night of July 5 below:

In their joint statement, the city and MU Health Care warned that “it is important to note the time stamps are important markers. Voices heard on these recordings at the same time indicated simultaneous radio traffic.”

What is clear in a stretch about 6 minutes long is the confusion apparent among responders about where the medics are and if they are coming on the scene, according to the Missourian reporting.

Around the 17-minute mark, a woman responder on the scene can be heard asking, “Where are my medics?”

Around the 17:15 mark, a different female voice replies, “Medics are advised to abandon CPR; we’re getting them.”

The first woman replies in a distressed voice: “OK. They don’t get to decide that.”

It is unclear, based on the recording, to whom “we” or “they” refers.

Later, someone is heard saying medics are unwilling to come on the scene, so responders are asked to transfer victims from the scene. A woman is heard saying, in a worried tone, “I’ll get them as close as I can.”

Around the 18-minute mark, a male responder says, “Respond in,” followed by a woman responder saying, “We have told them we are not responding in.”

Past the 20-minute mark of the recording, Boone County emergency responders can be heard inquiring about treating the 11-year-old victim, whom they refer to as “the 12-year-old.” By then, she is on her way to University Hospital in the back of a police squad car, based on the recording.

Later, around the 23-minute mark, someone off scene at Grace Lane says, “If there’s any officer on scene who needs a medic, let me know,” indicating nearby medics did not immediately go on scene despite knowing there were gunshot victims present.

The joint statement did not say whether more prompt response from medics would have resulted in lives saved.

The records from the meeting that were released Tuesday show MU EMS's details for responding to active scenes going forward.

According to the records, MU EMS has five actions going forward:

  1. While going to a scene, EMS can make an announcement on law enforcement channels with an estimated time of arrival and a staging location if they have one. The record notes that the more chaotic the scene, the more important this is.
  2. The Columbia Police Department will determine and announce a casualty collection point, which EMS or fire crews can change if needed when they arrive.
  3. The Columbia Police Department will say "scene is stable" when EMS and fire crews can enter.
  4. EMS should listen to the law enforcement channel when en-route to a high activity scene or while on standby for law enforcement.
  5. Supervisor ride-alongs will occur between EMS and law enforcement to better understand how the other works.

According to a multi-agent debriefing statement in the record, law enforcement needs to provide clear indication a scene is stable when there is violence, an officer will determine a casualty collection point and cross radio traffic is encouraged.

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