MINNEAPOLIS - Twenty-six-year-old Nick Pierce and 25-year-old Tavis Shields have been paramedics for the last few years. But Thursday when they were called to the mass shooting in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, these first responders had been working together for only a few hours.
"We'd been partners together for a whole hour and 15 minutes I think," said Shields.
They arrived to Accent Signage Systems just minutes after the shooting took place. At that point, police did not know where shooter Andrew Engeldinger was located.
"I myself remember walking in there feeling pretty nervous," said Pierce.
And with guns drawn, officers escorted Pierce and Shields, along with other medics in to the victims.
"I remember walking in and thinking this isn't where this type of violence should take place," he said.
Pierce recalls how normal the business looked but how abnormal the situation felt.
"It's a call I don't think I will likely repeat in my career. And I certainly don't hope I repeat it," said Pierce.
Although they would not give specifics, they say with help from police they got to their patient within moments. They put that person on a stretcher. And in less than two minutes, they were out the door headed for the hospital.
"This is the thing you hear about on the news all the time, and then you're there," said Shields.
But these medics are quick to put the focus on others.
"The police are the actual heroes here. They're the ones who have to go in first, we go behind them," said Pierce.
Yet they did go in while others were desperate to get out. Partners for only a few hours, but a day they will take with them long after.
"It certainly one day I will remember," he said.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)