Lawmakers and prosecutors continue to piece together the events of the violent insurrection that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and now, a new film offers a firsthand perspective from the firefighters and paramedics who responded.
The documentary-style video, produced by DC Fire and EMS and released on YouTube, offers an hour-by-hour account of their attempts to provide life-saving care amid a flurry of violence, turmoil and death.
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“The resources we had in place were quickly overwhelmed,” Deputy Fire Chief Daniel McCoy says in the first few minutes of the film.
DC Fire and EMSDeputy Fire Chief Daniel McCoy explains the preparations his teams were making in the early hours of Jan. 6 in this video documentary released by D.C. Fire and EMS, Sept. 2, 2021.
McCoy and his team surged resources to the park south of the White House where demonstrators and rioters first gathered. That morning, they also deployed personnel to survey the Capitol and surrounding area, anticipating the crowd would head in that direction.
Paramedic Sgt. Alethea Brooks described the chaos while she was trying to provide aide to the injured. Rioters spat at her and called her racial slurs multiple times, she said.
DC Fire and EMSSergeant Paramedic Alethea Brooks recounts the repeated racial slurs directed at her by Jan. 6 rioters in this video documentary released by D.C. Fire and EMS, Sept. 2, 2021.
“You always know there are people that you have to help regardless, it doesn’t matter if you’re a murderer,” Brooks says. “It’s our job to not judge and we’re just here to help. But it definitely makes it harder when you know that the people that you’re helping are actually harming our brothers — our brothers in blue — and have no regard for me.”
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Another paramedic, Rocco Gabriele, describes how his gear was taken by rioters and his supplies were dumped out while he was treating a patient.
“We did what we could with what we had and we did it fast,” he said.
DC Fire and EMSFirefighter Paramedic Rocco Gabriele describes how his gear was taken by rioters and his supplies were dumped out while he was treating a patient in this video documentary released by D.C. Fire and EMS, Sept. 2, 2021.
Gabriele, Brooks and several of their colleagues described the extreme difficulties involved with providing care amid such a hectic scene.
During the fray, one of the people attempting to breach the inner halls of the Capitol was shot by a police officer. First responders had to carry her out before providing care because the paramedic team was worried for their own safety.
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The violent nature of the crowd also made it difficult for first responders to access and treat many of the police officers who were injured. There were about a thousand documented assaults against law enforcement over the course of the day, according to recent legal filings from the Department of Justice.
Among the dead was Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who suffered a stroke that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia said caused his death.
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, FILEPro-Trump supporters clash with police on Capitol Hill, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
After paramedics had been alerted that Sicknick collapsed on an upper level of the Capitol building, they began working on a plan to get him out. Due to the state of emergency, the elevators were out of service so a team of National Guardsmen and Capitol Police carried him out in a wheelchair, one of the first responders recounted.
A congressional committee continues to investigate the events surrounding Jan. 6 and is attempting to obtain any relevant records it can find, such as call logs, as well as the type of first-hand accounts featured in the film.
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