SAFD EMS responding to calls for violence at all hours of the day

According to FBI data, SAPD violent crime reports hit an all-time high in 2022.

SAN ANTONIO – Day after day, KSAT covers shootings across our city.

Looking at data on the San Antonio Police Department’s website, crimes against people are down this year compared to last.

KSAT Investigates was given access to ride along with a SAFD medic officer as he and other crews respond to some of the violent calls that are becoming all too familiar.

SAFD preparedness

“The whole purpose of kind of my job is we make all the high acuity calls that are out there. We supply all the ambulances, make sure that they have everything that they need,” Joshua Frandsen said.

Frandsen has worked for the San Antonio Fire Department for over 20 years. As an emergency medical services lieutenant medic officer, Frandsen is always prepared for whatever situation they might encounter.

He showed us some equipment he keeps in his unit when he assists other EMS crews.

“This is a blood warmer that was designed by some of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces,” Frandsen said, pulling out a gray case.

He then pulled out an AccuVein, an infrared vein finder that projects an image of your veins beneath the skin.

“Once this scans on here and you see how I can see all that and follow that all the way up, it shows me exactly where to start,” he said.

Frandsen also showed us some of the drugs he keeps on hand, his mass casualty response case, and both ballistic vests he has on scene.

The SAFD veteran says all of this helps them to be prepared for all of the calls they face, which, as of late, have been calls for violence.

San Antonio’s violent crime

“The last 24 months, I’ve never seen anything like it. Without a doubt, we are making more shootings than we’ve ever made,” Frandsen said.

San Antonio Police Department posts data provided by the National Incident-Based Reporting System on its website. It shows assault offenses have dropped from 26,256 from January-September 2022 to 23,382 in the same period in 2023.

Homicide offenses during the same period also saw a nearly 40% drop from 195 to 127.

However, last year’s data is skewed due to the June 2022 deaths of 53 people in a tractor-trailer on Quintana Road.

“I don’t know where they’re getting that data because that’s definitely not what we’re seeing or feeling on the streets. And I feel 100% confident you could ask anybody who’s out here, they’ll say the same thing,” Frandsen said.

KSAT Investigates rides along

For two nights, from approximately 5 p.m. to midnight, KSAT Investigates was allowed to ride along with Frandsen as he responded to calls.

Inside his vehicle, a computer shows him the calls as they’re being made to 911 and as SAPD and the dispatchers update them.

“The information is still coming in, and we won’t roll in on this scene until PD’s secured it for us,” Frandsen explained.

Night one was fairly quiet, though Frandsen did assist in responding to a car that crashed inside a home after allegedly fleeing a prior crash scene.

Night two, a week later, was a different story altogether.

The first shooting call we went to was fatal and accidentally self-inflicted by a person who was cleaning their gun.

We had barely left that scene when a second call came in.

“Second shooting in 30 minutes. It’s a Thursday. It’s not even midnight,” Frandsen said. “It came in as possible shots fired. It looks like we’ve got an individual who has been shot in the head.”

This call appeared to be a domestic violence call. SAPD has previously told KSAT 12 News those are some of the most dangerous calls they respond to.

Frandsen says they’re seeing those every day across the city.

“It’s a malignancy on your soul,” he explained.

He elaborated, telling us that these calls show the worst in people, and they see it repeatedly.

Right as we got to the scene, Frandsen went inside the home.

SAPD was still taping off the area, and a young woman was handcuffed and being questioned.

Frandsen came out in a moment. He grabbed surgical supplies and the mobile ultrasound to find a heartbeat for the victim.

“We did some finger thoracotomy, had some chest trauma, so we ended up opening up the chest because we were positively ventilating for him,” Frandsen explained as he took off his gloves and washed his hands by his truck.

Unfortunately, the victim didn’t survive.

“We’ll turn the scene over to PD and let PD handle it from here,” he said.

Violent crime reduction plan

Research is happening now with SAPD and UTSA on ways to cut down on crime, but no one seems to have the answer as to why it’s happening.

“I do know that we see more and more people that are here that are — that’s involved in this have previous criminal records, they have outstanding warrants, they’re being arrested and released,” Frandsen said.

All Frandsen and the rest of SAFD can do is promise to respond and try to save lives.

“There hasn’t been an emergency in the history of the San Antonio Fire Department that we haven’t solved,” he said.

The SAFD has peer-to-peer support, as well as psychologists, and critical incident stress debriefs after responding to traumatic events to care for crews’ mental health and to combat burnout.

You can watch part one of our KSAT Investigates series EMS Ride-Along that aired at 6:30 p.m. here and watch both parts on our KSAT YouTube page.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

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