Asst. chiefs for Santa Fe talk about responding to shooting scene

SANTA FE, Texas – Chris Anderson looked forward to sleeping in Friday morning. As assistant chief for Santa Fe Fire and Rescue, a volunteer fire department, Anderson's plans changed when the phone rang minutes before 8 a.m.

"I never would have thought this would have happened to our community," Anderson said.

It did happen.

Santa Fe High School, straddled along Highway 6, became the site of the nation's latest school shooting.

Seventy five fire fighters comprise the city's volunteer organization. Twenty six of them, over a third, responded to the scene Friday.

It's what they do.

"It's way different than anything else that we've had to handle," said Assistant Chief Jim Cargile.

The department was given various tasks, some at the school, others helping students and parents. Anderson worked to treat Santa Fe ISD police Officer John Barnes. Authorities said Barnes was shot as he confronted the gunman, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pafourtzis.

While these first responders did their jobs, they knew and felt what this community had endured.

"There was just so much running through my mind," said Cargile, whose first task was to communicate with Life Flight helicopters responding to pick up the wounded.

After all, it's their community, too.

"We all have kids that go to the school and we're like a big family here. We all in a way helped raise each other's kids and in the beginning we didn't know the status of our own," Cargile said.

The fire department tells KPRC2 firefighters have gone through an evaluation, following Friday's massacre. They will continue to be monitored, Anderson said.

"We can't let one person dictate the rest of us and we have to move on, come together as a community, as we already have," Anderson added.

It's with that spirit of perseverance that they, and others, have carried on -- knowing those killed, those hurt, will not be forgotten.

"Never want to leave Santa Fe. This is a great community and this is going to make us better," Anderson said.