San Antonio trauma surgeon defends Robb Elementary medical response

STRAC states facts were missing from the report criticizing the medical response.

SAN ANTONIO – Hours after a scathing review of the medical response at Robb Elementary on May 24, a San Antonio-area doctor says something key is missing -- context.

“From a medical response, there was a challenge from a prolonged time from initial injury to initial treatment,” said Dr. Ronald Stewart, senior trauma surgeon for University Health and chair of surgery for The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

For over an hour, victims and survivors of the Robb Elementary shooting waited in classrooms 111 and 112 for the shooter to be stopped and life-saving care to be given.

According to reporting by the Texas Tribune, Washington Post, and ProPublica, three people -- Jackie Cazares, Eva Mireles, and Xavier Lopez -- were pulled from the rooms initially alive but died shortly after that.

“Knowing that they had a chance to live, possibly, you know -- God only knows how many of them, and yet all of the resources are outside,” said Jesse Rizo, Cazares’ uncle.

Rizo said the report deepened the anger he feels.

Meanwhile, Eva Mireles’ daughter spoke out against the article on Twitter.

She received support from the mother of Amerie Jo Garza, Kimberly Garcia.

Stewart said the blame does not fall on the shoulders of the responding medical team or the Uvalde Memorial Hospital but rather on the weapon used.

“The amount of damage that’s done, particularly in vital areas of the body like the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis -- it’s unlikely to be saved even if you’re right outside of the operating room,” he said.

Stewart is a chair of STRAC, the South Texas Regional Advisory Council, which is conducting an after-assessment of the medical response to the Robb tragedy.

Though he wasn’t on the scene, he is confident in the job done by EMS and hospital staff.

“I think they performed admirably, honorably, and effectively with skill,” Stewart said.

He said that, based on the patients transferred to their facility, it was clear life-saving measures like Stop the Bleed and whole blood transfusions done in Uvalde made a difference in saving more lives.

“From an EMS and a hospital point of view, given the circumstances of that response, I would feel good about my EMS neighbors who responded and my rural hospital,” Stewart said.

The article states, “Medical helicopters with critical supplies of blood tried to land at the school, but an unidentified fire department official told them to wait at an airport 3 miles away.”

Stewart said this was protocol, given that the scene was still active.

“I understand how some people might say, ‘Well, you know, the helicopter land right on the schoolyard but not with an active shooter where now you wind up with, you know, other injuries and potentially another crisis,” Stewart said.

On Tuesday, STRAC released an open letter to regional trauma coordinators about the article posted, addressing what they call a “negative slant of the article.”

You can read the full letter below:

Watch the full interview with Dr. Ronald Stewart below:


Records reveal medical response further delayed care for Uvalde shooting victims

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news 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.