Deer Creek Officials Use Columbine Lessons

 

 
 
 

Wayne Zygowicz , BA, EMT-P | | Friday, February 26, 2010


It was a frightening scene that brought back vivid memories of the1999 Columbine High School shooting tragedy and again left the community in shock and disbelief. The scene was very chaotic, with television helicopters buzzing overhead, flashing emergency lights racing to the scene and students running for their lives after a lone gunman opened fire just as school was ending for the day. Deer Creek Middle School, is just outside the city limits of Littleton, Colo., in unincorporated Jefferson County. It's just a few short miles away from Columbine High School.

The incident happened at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, when 32-year-old Brunco Strong Eagle Eastwood allegedly began firing at students with a bolt-action .30-06 hunting rifle as busses filled the pick-up lanes and parents waited for their children. The alleged gunman, described as a drifter with a history of mental illness, walked up and asked a group of children whether they were students at Deer Creek. He allegedly opened fire when they answered "yes." Eastwood, reported by his father to be hearing voices in his head, had a lengthy arrest record that included incidents of threatening others with a gun. Denver news station9Newsreported that Eastwood attended Deer Creek Middle School in 1992.

This day could have been much worse had it not been for the heroic acts of Dr. David Benke, a 57-year-old math teacher who rushed the shooter and took him down, according to published reports. Patrolling the parking lot Benke heard the initial gunshot and quickly moved toward the disturbance. He encountered the alleged gunman as he was reloading the rifle and quickly wrestled the gun away from him just as a second shot rang out. Benke subdued Eastwood and with the help of others held him down until Jefferson County Sheriff officers could arrive just minutes later. Two students were injured by the gun fire, one critically, and both were transported to Littleton Adventist Hospital by West Metro Fire Rescue. Benke was very humble in his heroic role and said he wished he could have done more before any of his students got hurt. A Facebook page called "Dr. David Benke Is A Hero!!!!" was quickly developed and now has more than 34,000 members.

Jefferson County School districts officials have been training for such a situation for the 10 years since Columbine. The staff had practiced this drill many times and did exactly what they were supposed to do. School safety protocols include quickly notifying law enforcement, evacuating the schools and notifying parents.

ReadLearning from Columbine, where Zygowicz describes lessons learned from the Columbine High School shooting.

Wayne M. Zygowicz,BA, EMT-P,is the EMS chief for Littleton (Colo.) Fire Rescue. He has been involved in EMS and the fire service for 25 years. He also serves as a member of the JEMS Editorial Board. Contact him atwzygowicz@littletongov.org.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Extrication and Rescue, Provider Wellness and Safety, Operations and Protcols

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

University of Pittsburgh STAAMP Trial

Trauma experts launch tranexamic acid trial.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New York Ambulance Service Begins Using Power Cot

Service is first in county with new technology.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Traffic Cam Captures Wisconsin Ambulance Crash

Driver of ambulance cited for failing to operate safely.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Hospital Mourns Helicopter Crash Victims

TriState CareFlight pilot and crew killed in crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Moscow Subway MCI

At least 20 dead and 150 injured in subway derailment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On July 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Wounded Veteran Resiliency

Marine is one of many in quality of life study.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >