Two Arlington County firefighters were the only paramedics present at ground zero of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, treating and triaging injured law enforcement officers and attackers alike.
That’s according to a new report from the Associated Press, citing dozens of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.
From the AP:
Two firefighters loaned to Washington for the day were the only medics on the Capitol steps Jan. 6, trying to triage injured officers as they watched the angry mob swell and attack police working to protect Congress.
Law enforcement agents were “being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters,” wrote Arlington County firefighter Taylor Blunt in an after-action memo. Some couldn’t walk, and had to be dragged to safety.
Even the attackers sought medical help, and Blunt and his colleague Nathan Waterfall treated those who were passing out or had been hit. But some “feigned illness to remain behind police lines,” Blunt wrote.
Blunt, who’s also the Public Information Officer for the Arlington County Fire Department, said he and his colleagues were “among the first mutual aid teams to arrive,” and they “were critical to begin the process of driving protestors off the Capitol,” according to the AP.
The reporting suggests Arlington first responders had an earlier and more active role in defending the Capitol than previously known. County officials have not provided much specificity around what support Arlington police and firefighters provided in the District that day, and when.
ARLnow previously reported on large convoys of Arlington first responders that were seen heading into D.C. in the midst of the Capitol chaos that afternoon, and on video footage showing riot gear-clad ACPD officers pushing back unruly protesters that night.
At the time, a department spokeswoman declined to provide ARLnow with additional information on the deployments of Arlington police officers, citing the need to not divulge tactical information. Blunt, reached via email on Friday, declined an interview.
“Since the incident is still under investigation, we have decided not to provide interviews at this time,” he wrote. “Hopefully, my memo provided to the press via the FOIA request gives you some perspective of the challenges we had to face that day.”
ARLnow reported on Jan. 5 that Arlington police would be in D.C. as a result of a mutual aid request from the Metropolitan Police Department. Arlington officers would “assist our regional law enforcement partners in maintaining peace and order in the event of a significant disturbance or unrest,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The AP report notes that county officials were informed that Arlington officers were responding to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol around 3:30 p.m., an hour or so after the ACFD medics started treating injured people on the Capitol steps.
…it was 3:39 p.m. when Penn emailed county officials that he had “just been notified” that Arlington officers were responding to the Capitol attack and had been absorbed into the overall response led by Capitol Police.
That was almost 90 minutes after the mob first busted into the Capitol and more than an hour after the medics began treating injured police on the steps.
The AP also obtained an email from Fairfax County’s deputy county executive, suggesting that officials were aware that participants in the pro-Trump rally that turned into protests and rioting were staying at hotels in Arlington and Alexandria, and that some had been acting “disorderly.”
For hours, Fairfax County’s police monitored Metro stations and acted as back up to Washington police, according to the emails. They were also checking with hotels where some in the mob were staying. Rohrer noted that many had been staying in Alexandria and Arlington.
The hotels “reported some problems with crowds and disorderly conduct the past few nights,” he said.
Some of the militia members facing federal charges in the wake of the Capitol attack were staying at a hotel in Ballston, according to court documents. Additionally, a man charged with firing gunshots in the air in Rosslyn on Jan. 1 was reportedly staying at a hotel there ahead of the rally.
No Arlington personnel were seriously injured during the violence on Jan. 6, according to Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, who spoke to ARLnow the day after the storming of the Capitol.
“Arlington was safe last night and is safe now,” de Ferranti said at the time. He, too, provided few details on the actions of Arlington first responders.
“Our officers helped the D.C. police department,” the County Board chair said.