Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) First responders were on the scene within minutes of the ACA shooting on April 3rd, 2009.
When the SWAT team needed a paramedic, Binghamton Fire Captain Al Gardiner didn't think twice.
In an exclusive interview with Action News, he takes us through the turmoil as the tragedy unfolded.
"First thing I saw was several police officers running around with shot guns. The chief ordered us to put on bullet proof vests and ordered us in the back of the ambulance to provide cover and we went around the side of the building and that's where we staged," said Gardiner.
Details of the shooting were unclear when Gardiner arrived on scene, adding to the chaos around the ACA.
"As things were unfolding we heard about more and more victims and the scene got bigger and bigger," he said.
The body count continued to rise, a few victims were clinging to life.
A SWAT member asked Gardiner to enter the building with the team.
"And I asked him where the shooter was if they located him and he said we aren't 100% sure where he is, and I said do you know how many shooters there are and he said we aren't 100% sure of that either, so he said just come with me don't worry we'll cover you," said Gardiner.
Gardiner was prepared to do rapid assessment of the casualties, but not prepared for what he saw.
"I didn't know there was that many people in that classroom. To be honest with you when I first walked into the room I froze. It was very hard to concentrate on what you were doing," he said.
To regain focus, the Captain relied on his 14 years of experience and training.
"I don't know how to describe it, you sort of go into a vacuum, it was very surreal it seemed like an eternity but it was more 3 or 4 seconds."
Gardiner says the EMS effort was executed well.
18 area ambulances responded.
Along with Police and fire crews from across the Southern Tier.
Caitlin Nuclo, WBNG-TV Action News.
Reviews of the response and information from autopsies concluded all of the victims died instantly.
The Broome District Attorney says no lives would have been saved had the team entered any faster.