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How SAFD jumped to action as gunfire rang out in Uvalde 80 miles away

"It was a horrific scene," said San Antonio's top fire official about the Uvalde tragedy.

SAN ANTONIO — As gunfire jolted the small community of Uvalde around noon on Tuesday, the San Antonio Fire Department immediately sent blood, equipment and teams to the town that sits about 85 miles to the west.

The fire chief there called SAFD Chief Charles Hood shortly after the shooting began, and his Alamo City counterpart raced to Robb Elementary to set up a unified command center. 

"It was a horrific scene," Hood said. "The most heartbreaking thing was seeing these parents sitting on the curb not having any information and I wanted to get them away from everyone else and to a safe place. We got them to an area where we could get several critical-stress people to manage them and get them to the reunification center." 

But many of those families would not be reunited with their children. 

The grieving in Uvalde extends beyond the families who lost children. First responders too are dealing with what they saw inside the school. 

SAFD is providing counseling for them as well. 

"What we've learned from Sutherland Springs to this one (is that) the local EMS system, once they've experienced an active shooter, something like this with multiple victims, it's very hard for them to recover in a couple days," Hood said. "It's going to be very hard for them to get back in those vehicles and do the job, so we want to make sure that they're ready to go back."

It was hard for Hood, himself a father of four boys.

"I got home and my number three son was there and I cried. I looked at the faces of those kids and I cried," he said. 

Two medic units from SAFD will remain in Uvalde for 9-1-1 response calls for as long as they're needed while first responders there deal with the tragedy.

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