First responders, doctor reflect on response to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

Saturday marks 1-year anniversary of mass shooting that left 5 dead

By Shyann Malone - Anchor/Reporter, Layron Livingston - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that left five people dead.

Hundreds of deputies responded to the airport Jan. 6, 2017, after Esteban Santiago allegedly open fired in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.

"The phones didn't stop. The minute you hung up, another one came in. You didn't even have time to breathe -- it was just back to back," Communication Officer Dennis Tuckish, who was working dispatch that day, said. 

Eleven people were shot, five of whom died.

"We weren't sure whether we had one shooter or whether there were multiple shooters," Communications Duty Officer Kevin Mitchell said. "This was perhaps one of the most critical incidents in the county's history that we have had to respond to."

Stretcher after stretcher rushed into the trauma center at Broward Health Medical Center after the shooting, and dozens of patients were brought in who needed some level of medical attention.

"We didn't really know the particulars of that mass casualty, but we soon found out it was real," Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Christopher Roberts said. 

Roberts said the scene at the hospital after the shooting was one he's never witnessed before. 

"You see a human being, injured, coming into your care, and your priority is to take care of that individual," Roberts said. 

The emergency was one that required all hands on deck.

"I remember seeing first responders, police officers, firefighters, paramedics working side by side with our nursing staff here, seeing sub-special surgeons, ER physicians -- it was just a very, very well-oiled machine," Roberts said. 

Hospital officials said 54 patients were brought in, six of whom were suffering from gunshot wounds.

"The gravity of the situation, if you let that sink in too much, it will affect how you provide care," Roberts said. "There's time to reflect on that after the emergency is taken care of."

Santiago remains jailed as he awaits trial.

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