5 first responders recount church shooting tragedy for first time

Wilson County EMS members say they're forever changed after mass shooting

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FLORESVILLE, Texas – The emergency tones went out around 11:20 a.m. Sunday, and with no hesitation, first responders headed to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

"This was nothing we thought we would ever encounter, ever."

“We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,” emergency medical technician Margaret Gonzalez said. “We just knew people were hurt and they needed extra help.”

During the next several hours, the small volunteer service would transfer several patients. It would also realize the family of one of their own was inside the church.

“It became personal and I wanted Torie (a fellow EMT) to know we were going to be compassionate with her family,” EMT Mary Hernandez said.

RELATED: Remembering the victims

Later that evening, they were all tasked with helping remove the bodies. The process took over three hours.

“We are, in a way, prepared, but nobody can be prepared for something like this,” paramedic Sergio Limon said.

There was a sense of closure for the organization Thursday morning as they all walked into the church together.

“It helps to get through it and cope with it, knowing that you have a great support system behind you, “ EMT William Stole said. “All of us first responders are brothers and sisters.”

RELATED: Family spared in Texas church shooting remembers those lost

Wilson County EMS praises all the other first responders who were at the scene on Sunday. They also thank the community that has supported them throughout this week.

“What doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and I think that has made us stronger,” Hernandez said.

Editorial Note: Mary Hernandez is the mother of KSAT digital journalist, Erica Hernandez.

Continuing coverage on KSAT.com:

Photos, videos from Sutherland Springs church shooting scene 

Pastor says victims in church shooting 'were believers, with their Lord and savior right now'

Reactions pour in following mass shooting at church in Sutherland Springs, Texas 

New details about victims, gunman released in First Baptist Church shooting

Men shot at, chased after Sutherland Springs church shooter 

Vigil held outside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs 

Wilson County Sheriff: 'No way' for people to escape church shooting 

A look inside Sutherland Springs' First Baptist Church before mass shooting

About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.