Highland Park fire chief describes tense moments after gunfire erupted at parade

"Similar to combat medicine" — that is how the Highland Park fire chief is describing his team's response in the moments after the parade shooting.

Now, more of Highland Park's first responders are sharing their experiences from Monday's parade shooting.

"I don't know if we'll ever fully get over the emotions of that," said Fire Chief Joe Schrage, who said after running on adrenaline all week, the severity of the tragedy is just now starting to hit.

"Starting to put all the story together, listening to the crews sharing their experiences, you understand the magnitude of the tragedy," Schrage said.


All but five members of his 50-member fire department rushed to the scene — some off-duty — moments after they themselves were in the parade, riding fire engines with their own families in celebration.

Chief Schrage estimates his team applied some 30 tourniquets to victims with gunshot wounds, and treated and transported 24 victims within the first 40 minutes.

"We were tying tourniquets. I know one guy who tied 15 tourniquets for people to not bleed out," Schrage said.

Shane Selig is a volunteer with the Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT).

"Every single cop, every single firefighter that was there, they were not hesitant to run towards wherever they thought that they could do the most good," said Selig.

Selig said in the moments after the shots were fired, he heard four- and five-year old children expressing fear for their own lives until they saw police officers and firefighters rushing toward the scene.

"I think that was something that brought a little bit of whatever reassurance could exist to those kids," he said.

"This is an abnormal event that hopefully we'll never have to experience again, and I hope that other communities never have to experience," said Schrage.

The fire chief says without such a quick emergency response, he fears there would have been many more deaths.