Disclaimer: The information presented here is based on the report of the review panel convened by Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine to examine the mass shootings at Virginia Tech. It does not reflect the beliefs or opinions of the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services or Department of Health.
On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, VA, murdered 32 students and faculty and wounded 17 others in two related incidents comprising the worst school shooting in American history.
Three days later, Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine commissioned a panel of experts to investigate the tragedy and recommend improvements to Virginia laws, policies, procedures, systems and institutions to help prevent similar incidents in the future. The panel was officially established in June through executive order.
Each member of the panel had expertise in areas pertinent to the investigation, including public safety and security and emergency medical services, among others. Their findings and recommendations were released to the public on August 30. The following outlines the panel's findings, particularly with regard to emergency medical services response.
The panel was directed to examine how Cho carried out such a violent act; recreate a timeline of events at the shooting sites, West Ambler Johnston dormitory and Norris Hall; and review the response of the agencies involved in the event, including the emergency medical response. Panelists were to recommend measures to improve the pertinent agencies, systems, laws, policies and procedures based on their findings.
The panel used several different types of research and investigation methods to conduct its examination, including literature review, interviews, public meetings, and websites and e-mail. Nearly 2,300 people contributed opinions or input during this process.
Chapter IX: EMS Response
The chapter of the report that primarily deals with the EMS response is one of the longest chapters in the report. It discusses prehospital treatment, transport and the hospital care of the wounded patients, as well as transport of the deceased. In addition, the panel was tasked with evaluating the on-scene EMS response, implementation of mass-casualty and ICS plans (including NIMS compliance and patient stabilization) both in the field and at the hospital, the types of communications systems used and coordination of resources. The introduction to the chapter praises the overall EMS response and commends those providers who responded and rendered care. The Virginia Tech Rescue Squad (VTRS) and Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad (BVRS) are both singled out for their actions.
West Ambler Johnston Hall response
This section of the report outlines the response to the West Ambler Johnston Residence Hall, the scene of the first two murders. VTRS was initially dispatched for an injury from a fall, and the VTRS crew arrived on scene within five minutes of dispatch. Providers found a tragic scene: two patients with gunshot wounds to the head. A medevac was initially requested, but denied due to inclement weather. Both patients were assessed, immobilized and treated quickly and aggressively. Both were transported from the scene within 15 minutes of VTRS arrival. One patient went into cardiac arrest en route and was pronounced dead on arrival at Montgomery Regional Hospital (MRH). The other arrived at MRH and was intubated in the ED, then transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (CRMH) in Roanoke. During that transport, that patient also went into cardiac arrest, and was pronounced dead on arrival at CRMH.
The report concludes that the triage, treatment and transport of the two patients from West Ambler Johnston was appropriate, and that both victims' injuries were incompatible with survival.