In an emotional press conference, a first responder who saved a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has described a tense series of events that began with thinking the patient had already died and ended as an uplifting story of hope.
Coral Springs Fire Department Lieutenant Laz Ojeda, sitting at a table alongside victim Maddy Wilford, said that he originally thought the 17-year-old was dead when he entered the school after the mass shooting. She was pale, he said, but a nudge from another first responder elicited a small response.
“I believe she gasped or she moved. But, she made signs of life,” Mr Ojeda said, describing the overall scene as "organised chaos".
He and other first responders immediately moved to save her life and keep her from becoming one of the 17 individuals who ultimately lost their lives. They put a chest seal on her wound, which Mr Ojeda believes may have alleviated symptoms associated with a punctured lung.
Once in emergency transport, Mr Ojeda said they gave Ms Wilford oxygen and fluids. He said the crew was en-route to a hospital 30 miles away, but that he decided to re-route to a closer hospital after she once again showed signs of life.
“I looked at her. I gave her a sternal rub and I said, ‘hey how old are you?’” Mr Ojeda said, his eyes welling with tears. “Second sternal rub, I said, ‘hey, how old are you?’ She came around. She told me she was 17. So at this point, I look at [another responder] and said, ‘We’re going to North Broward [hospital].’”
Ms Wilford survived after several surgeries, and attended the press conference with Mr Ojeda, and her parents. Her father, taking moments to look at his daughter and smile, said that he is grateful that his daughter’s life was spared.
“It’s hard for me to feel anything but gratitude, and that’s for the miracle that has happened to her, and the way that she’s been blessed,” David Wilford said.
“This really has been a miracle. And, I just have to give a lot of gratitude and thanks,” Mr Wilford continued. “And, I have a lot of sympathy for her classmates, and the other parents whose children were injured, and whose children didn’t make it.”
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