The Fire/Emergency Medical Services Response
April 20,1999, Littleton’s Fire Engine 13 responded to a report of a weed fire
and explosion on Wadsworth Boulevard, between Ken Caryl and Chatfield Avenues. A
West Metro Fire District engine already was on scene and had extinguished the
fire. A West Metro fire Investigator was en route to investigate the incident.
Officers at the scene noted two small propane fuel containers and possibly
fireworks on the ground in the area.
Engine 13 responded to the weed fire, the crew heard other fire engine and
rescue crews responding to Columbine High School because of gunshots fired and a
possible explosion on the roof.
units responded, requests for ambulances and a helicopter were initiated. A
commander from the Littleton Fire District arrived on scene and assumed command,
assigning all other fire and rescue units to stage away from the area. It became
apparent this was an active situation and a command post was set up north of the
school at the intersection of Leawood and Pierce streets. A call for all the
command staff, additional rescues and engines, and additional ambulances was
at the command post received reports of multiple victims with gunshot wounds,
smoke in the school and a possible natural gas leak inside. With that additional
information, Littleton’s command requested that a Fire Task Force be set up to
the south of the high school at the intersection of Coal Mine and Pierce
streets, and an ambulance staging area at the command post. At this point, a
triage and treatment area was established on the west wide of Pierce Street,
south of the command post, to receive the wounded, reported to be from 25 to 35.
Chief of the Littleton Fire Department, William Pessemier, arrived on scene,
assumed command of the fire response and established a unified command with the
on scene Jefferson County Incident Commander, Lt. Dave Walcher.
command post was notified that several victims were on the sidewalk outside the
school cafeteria on the southwest side of the school. Two Littleton Fire
Department Rescue units responded and rescued three victims, taking them first
to the command post. All three
victims were stabilized and transported to area hospitals.
to leaving for the hospital, rescue crews notified the command post that the
area was not secure, that there had been gunfire over their heads as the rescued
the injured students and cover fire was supplied by the law enforcement officers
in the area.
Police vehicles were transporting students from the west wide of the school to
the south entrance of Clement Park at Yukon and Caley Streets. The Yukon/ Caley
Division triage and treatment area was established with a Littleton Fire
Department lieutenant in charge. One patient was transported by Air Life and
several were transported by ambulance from this area.
second triage and treatment area, the East Division, was set up on the east side
of the school, after command was informed the remaining victims would be brought
from inside the school to this location. The East Division was commanded by a
Littleton Fire Department captain and transported several patients by ambulance
to area hospitals.
final triage and treatment area was located on the west side near the library.
This area, commanded by a Littleton Fire Department captain, assisted as medical
personnel entered the library to rescue and transport the only patient still
alive. The patient was transported to a hospital by ambulance
agencies assisted with personnel and equipment during the incident. Units from
West Metro Fire Protection District assisted with command functions, EMS
staging, transportation of patients, treatment of patients, PIO functions and
its chaplain assisted with families. Denver Fire Department assisted with the
Fire Task Force. South Metro Fire and Rescue's Battalion vehicle was utilized as
a communications vehicle. Columbine Ambulance Service, American Medical
Response, Englewood Fire Department, Sheridan Fire Department, Rural Metro
Ambulance Company, Pridemark Ambulance Company, Denver Health Ambulance, Air
Life and Flight for Life were involved in the triage, treatment and
transportation of patients.
total of 12 Fire and EMS agencies responded with 10 pieces of fire apparatus, 46
ambulances, 2 helicopters, 25 staff personnel and one chaplain.
Fire Department's Deputy Fire Marshall, a bomb tech for Arapahoe County,
assisted with identifying and defusing explosive devices, by entering the school
with SWAT units during the second sweep of the school late that night.