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Rescue workers weren't prepared for chaos of Aurora shooting

By Ben Brumfield and Cristy Lenz, CNN
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
The public gets its first glimpse of James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting during his initial court appearance Monday, July 23. With his hair dyed reddish-orange, Holmes, here with public defender Tamara Brady, showed little emotion. He is accused of opening fire in a movie theater Friday, July 20, in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/21/us/gallery/colorado-mourning-victims/index.html' target='_blank'>More photos: Mourning the victims of the Colorado theater massacre</a> The public gets its first glimpse of James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting during his initial court appearance Monday, July 23. With his hair dyed reddish-orange, Holmes, here with public defender Tamara Brady, showed little emotion. He is accused of opening fire in a movie theater Friday, July 20, in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. More photos: Mourning the victims of the Colorado theater massacre
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Lagging communication caused delays in emergency medical response
  • 1,400 people poured out in a panic, many covered in blood
  • They surrounded rescue vehicles, blocking access to the theater
  • People were in shock and covered in blood, and many were not sure if they had been shot

(CNN) -- When a shooter sprayed a movie audience with bullets in a Colorado theater last summer, paramedics were not prepared for the extent of the carnage and arrived with too few ambulances, fire officials say in a new report.

Fourteen hundred audience members rushed out in a panic, when James Holmes allegedly opened fire in Aurora's Century cinema on July 20, killing 12 and wounding nearly 60 more.

The confused crowd swarmed around ambulances and police cars, blocking access to the building and the parking lot and hindering rescue efforts, the Aurora fire department said Wednesday in a preliminary analysis of the incident.

First responders recount initial chaos

Emergency vehicles inundated by crowds were forced to drive over medians and curbs to gain access to the wounded found at eight different locations on the property, according to the fire report.

Cynthia Davis, center, visits the roadside memorial set up for victims of the Colorado shooting massacre across the street from the Century 16 movie theater on Monday, July 30, in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed in the theater early July 20 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Suspect James Holmes was taken into custody shortly after the attack. More photos: Colorado movie theater shooting Cynthia Davis, center, visits the roadside memorial set up for victims of the Colorado shooting massacre across the street from the Century 16 movie theater on Monday, July 30, in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed in the theater early July 20 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Suspect James Holmes was taken into custody shortly after the attack. More photos: Colorado movie theater shooting
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
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Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Moore: There will be another Aurora

Police cruisers ended up carrying many of the critically injured to hospitals.

Many of the moviegoers were covered in blood, were in shock and not sure whether or not they had been shot, the fire department said.

Rescue efforts were also delayed by lagging communication between dispatchers, police and fire officials, according to a report by the Denver Post.

Emergency medical teams did not receive notification to deploy until 17 minutes after the shooting was reported, a fire official told the Post. Police officers at the rear of the theater called for medical help for seven minutes, while a fire official held ambulances on standby nearby.

Holmes faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in the shooting rampage. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in Colorado more than 35 years ago, the state has executed just one person.

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