Las Vegas massacre: Rescue mission by firefighter's wife

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Las Vegas (CNN)Even though she could see it in his eyes that he was going back in, Debbie Gomez wanted her husband to leave the Route 91 Harvest Country Musical Festival with her. But as a Clark County Firefighter, Jesse Gomez was trained to respond to emergencies. It didn't matter that he was off duty at the time.

Debbie and Jesse Gomez.
As Jesse's cousins Opal and Steve Ruiz start driving out of the parking lot, other people are desperately trying to get a ride too. "People just started pounding on the car," Debbie said, beginning to cry as she recalled her fear. "I was still on the floorboard just screaming, 'you can't leave! You can't leave! Jesse's still there!'"
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But Steve and Opal also realized they needed to help, telling Debbie that they were going to put victims in her car to get them to the hospital. Debbie, still in shock about leaving Jesse behind, couldn't wrap her head around what they were asking of her.
    Stopping the car and moving the seats of Debbie's Chevrolet Tahoe, Steve and Opal loaded a man who had been shot into the car. A woman who didn't know this man but who had been staying with him jumped into the car as well.

    'You have to get it together!'

    "They all just yelled at me and they said you have to get it together," Debbie said. "You are the only one that is a local here. You are the only one that knows how to get to a hospital, Debbie!"
    As Opal drove close to 90 miles per hour to get to the hospital, a sense of calm finally washed over Debbie. Steve was trying to get vital information from the man to share with the doctors. The other woman was trying to contact the man's wife. Debbie would later learn that when the gunfire erupted, he had been shot in the back protecting his wife and her two best friends. But for now, her job was just to keep this man talking.
    "We were joking around with each other -- me and the victim," Debbie recalled, remembering how she told him he looked like he drove a truck. He said he did drive a Ford F-150. "I said 'well, you are being taken in a Chevy so you better trade that in because I am a Chevy girl!'"
    By the time they get to the hospital, the man can't speak anymore. He's just moaning. In light of the attack and the false reports of multiple shooters on the Las Vegas Strip, Spring Valley Hospital was on lockdown. Steve pounded on the glass of the emergency room door. "We got a victim! We got a victim!" he yelled until the doors opened and the medical professionals came to get the man who was losing consciousness. The young woman hopped out the car and went in with him.

    A new perspective on what first responders do

    Debbie couldn't sleep for days until she found out what happened to the shooting victim she helped save. The man, who has chosen to keep his identity private, survived and is back home in Texas.
    As for her husband, it was some three hours after the shooting began when they reunited at another hospital. "I remember he was just standing on a curb. There was like no one around -- a lonely curb," Debbie said, remembering how she jumped out of the car to hug her husband. "I couldn't believe I was holding him."
    The whole experience has given Debbie a new perspective on what Jesse does every day as a first responder. "When he comes through that door and you know he has seen some bad stuff and at night you are upset because he just wants to be by himself for awhile," Debbie said, taking a pause to reflect. "I get it now. I get it."