I Am A First Responder…To Gun Violence

November of 2005: Two friends and I are sitting at the bar in our low-crime-rate city at The 5th Street Tavern after work on a mid-Saturday afternoon when a man opens the bar’s front door and yells “I’ve been shot! Call 911!” My friends and I turn our heads and look at the man standing in the doorway and recognize him as the owner of the barbershop next door. We know of the “strained relationship” he’s had in the past with The 5th Street Tavern in which we are currently sitting.

At first everyone in the bar thinks he is making some sort of odd joke…then, some of us realize it’s NOT a joke when we see the blood dripping from his stomach. At the same time as our realization that he’s NOT joking he closes the front door to the bar and goes back to his barbershop, next door. I and the proprietor of the bar follow him into his business where he had just been robbed at gunpoint (which we didn’t know) and shot in the stomach for trying to defend himself by grabbing the gun of a would-be-thief. The gun went off and struck Dick Adams, the owner of Dick’s Barbershop, in his stomach. One of the bar patrons calls 911.

The owner of the barber shop, Dick Adams is stumbling around looking for the pieces of his shattered cellphone amidst the shards of his large broken “barbershop mirror” (a big, thick mirror) when the only two of us that went to help him, Paula and I, enter his business. It appeared to us as though the mirror had been shot. Dick was searching for the pieces of his cellphone amongst the shattered remains of his mirror on the floor of his shop while his blood is dripping out of his stomach all over his tile floor. He knew his cellphone had been shattered when he threw it at the thief…but, he was still trying to pick up its pieces and make a call to 911. We assure him that 911 has been called. We also know he is bleeding quite a bit and that we should do whatever we can to stop it. While Paula searches for his barbershop towels, I make him sit down in one of his vinyl-covered “customer chairs” and assure him that the “first responders” are on their way. Paula finds his towels and Dick holds them against his own stomach while the “first responders” have yet to arrive.

The Fire Department is physically located 2 BLOCKS from his business…yet, it takes, what SEEMS like about 10-15 minutes for them to “respond first” to the scene (it realize that it was probably only about 7 minutes or so – but WAAAY too long for a Fire House that was only 2 blocks away – I understand the situation as someone who has listened to a scanner for 20 yrs – I know how things go – but, it was way too long for a response to a shooting in a town our size, in my opinion).

I had to “make” the shooting victim sit down by physically holding my hand on his shoulder until the police and ambulance arrived – while explaining to him that “the ambulance must have been out at the hospital which was across town and just over 2 miles away” (through “city traffic” – in a town of 25K). *drip drip* “I know it seems like they should be here by now. *drip drip* They were probably ‘all the way’ out at the hospital and it’s going to be a few minutes before they can get here. *drip* They must be coming all the way from the hospital. *drip drip* Hang on. *drip* You’re doing just fine. *drip drip* Just stay seated until they get here.” *drip* (Then THEY can make you sit down!)

To this day I STILL can’t believe how CALM I was. I was helping a bleeding, “gut-shot” shooting victim survive (he was shot twice in the stomach). It was surreal.

Paula later recalled the 18-year-old gunman riding his bike past her mere minutes earlier, from in-between the two buildings, as she was outside depositing the trash from the bar. At that very moment, she had no idea that he’d just shot the man that had ran the next-door business for the past 30 years or so. She tossed a bag of garbage into a dumpster and a kid on a bike rode past her…no big deal. At the time.

The police never did speak to me that day…anymore than they had spoken to any of the other bar patrons, that is. Even though I was one of two first responders to the scene (Paula & I). The police (Detective Donnie Thorson) had come into the bar (after they’d arrived on the scene and told us to leave the scene) to gather the names of witnesses and us two “FIRST RESPONDERS” (Paula & I). Detective Thorson told me that I’d need to stop by the police division “later” (I should call first) so they could take imprints of my shoes (because I’d been on the scene and they’d need to eliminate my shoe prints in evidence). I called the police division a few hours later to see if they were ready to take those impressions of my shoes. No one at the PD had a clue to what I was referring. (What the hell else did they have going on that day???) They checked with the detectives and determined that the impressions of my shoes wouldn’t be necessary after all. It seemed as though they had captured the suspect after a Nebraska State Patrol helicopter had helped to locate the suspect who had been hiding within the downtown area (or so I heard) – yes, this was a “big deal” for our little town…at the time…(it’s funny what you remember more than 8-years after-the-fact, isn’t it?)

It’d be true to say that this, by far, wasn’t the only gun crime that had affected our “little” town of 25,000 (I come from a town of 400), but it was the most recent…and the most-personal, for me. September 26, 2002 3 ignorant loons entered a bank here and extinguished 5 souls…and got away with no money. It is regarded as ONE of the deadliest bank shootings in all of American history. Usually “bank robbers” want money. All the fools on this day got were 5 souls (and 3 “death sentences” – they’re still alive – a 4th, who was their “lookout”, is serving life).

What is the point of this post, you ask?

I just wanted to tell my story as a FIRST RESPONDER to a gun crime. I wonder if the SECOND RESPONDERS (police & rescue/ambulance) have a different story from that shooting on that day on which I was a witness? I just told you my story. Paula, as the other FIRST RESPONDER, may have a different recollection (but it wouldn’t be much different – it’s been a couple years since her and I have discussed it). I’d love for her to share it in the comments below. One thing that I know is that I was never personally thanked by Dick Adams for my actions that day. As far as I know, he’s never heard my name. That’s a bit disheartening, but, hey…I behaved in a manner that most in the bar that day (including my two friends) didn’t. That’s worth something. I hope that someone like Paula or myself would be present if family or friends of mine were ever shot…….and THEY needed a FIRST RESPONDER.

When “life happens”, those of us that are present are the FIRST RESPONDERS. We all should be able to handle/deal with such an event. More of us should carry guns…as they did in the Wild West. There was far less gun crime when everyone carried a gun…and didn’t have to pay $300.00 to be able to do so.

“…Shall not be infringed…”

It is irresponsibility at it’s finest for YOU to NOT protect YOURSELF. Who are YOU to put YOUR PROTECTION on the shoulders of someone ELSE??? YOU have a DUTY to guard your OWN LIFE. It’s selfish of you to think that others SHOULD protect you. YOU want to live? Protect YOURSELF!!! Don’t wait 10-minutes for the police to respond to the crime that has been committed against you. I love the police. But, they’re there to RESPOND. Which is why THEY are called “first responders”…not us.

The more facts you have about any given subject, the less ignorant you are.

Arm yourself or remain a perpetual victim.

Concealed carry laws are an abomination. Taking the course isn’t the problem. The fact that I have to pay $300.00 FOR the course is an infringement of my 2nd Amendment right to carry.

“…Shall not be infringed…”

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About Shelly Dankert

Unrepentant Conservative blogger.
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