AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas doctor said Thursday he is working with state police to determine whether any of the 21 people killed in the Uvalde school shooting could have been saved had medical help arrived sooner.
The review of autopsies and other records is part of a criminal investigation by Texas Rangers into the hesitant police response at Robb Elementary School in May, said Dr. Mark Escott, who serves as the city of Austin's chief medical officer.
Police waited more than 70 minutes before confronting the gunman inside a fourth-grade classroom. Five months after the shooting, many families still question whether any of the 19 children and two teachers killed could have been saved had nearly 400 law enforcement officers on the scene acted sooner.
Escott said he asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to do the review, which he described as in line with steps taken following other mass shootings in the U.S.
“We expect that we will find some lessons learned that can be applied to policy around the country,” Escott said.
It was not clear how much the findings will impact the state's criminal investigation. The Texas Department of Public Safety did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Escott said the review could take between three and six months and expressed hoped that the results will quickly be made public. Four other physicians who are EMS and trauma specialists, along with other expert advisors, will also help in the review, Escott said.
He said the review will look at autopsy reports and medical records from hospitals and paramedics who treated the victims. Among the questions, Escott said, is whether victims could have survived if they had received first response help within 10 minutes and arrived at a trauma center within an hour.
“The challenge we have in Uvalde is it is a small community and there are limited EMS resources and the closest level 1 or level 2 trauma center is 90 minutes away,” he said.
Last week, Col. Steve McCraw, Texas’ state police chief, said the criminal investigation into the police response to the shooting led by Texas Rangers would be wrapped up by the end of the year and turned over to prosecutors. He didn't indicate whether charges would be recommended against any officers.
McCraw told families of the children killed in the shooting that the Texas Department of Public Safety “did not fail” Uvalde during the response amid escalating scrutiny over the department’s actions. One state trooper has been fired and several others were placed under internal investigation.