As the world watched the Capitol riot unfold Wednesday, there were first responders who headed toward it, answering the call of duty despite crowds and chaos.
“It was just very surreal, it felt like it was something out of a movie,” Andrew Parco, an EMT with the Glen Echo Volunteer Fire Department, said.
Parco helped treat two Capitol Police officers who’d been attacked by rioters. He said he felt a sense of duty while treating fellow first responders.
“We are going above and beyond to try and care for them, because they have helped protect others, and that’s really trying to watch out for each other’s backs," Parco said.
Of the first responders on the front lines last week, many were volunteers. They’ve responded to emergencies for years, but said this was unlike anything else.
Chief Jim Vagonis leads the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. He said when the riots first broke out, so many people raised their hands to help, there wasn’t enough space in the trucks.
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“It becomes worrisome, you worry about your people," Vagonis said. “When they look back on it now, they’re going, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I go into, what transpired here?’”
A Glen Echo firefighter, Lt. Victor Graves, said it was "something none of us expected to see, certainly something we hope never to see again. But it was exactly what we train for."
The training continues. In the coming weeks, Montgomery County plans to send first responders to the inauguration. They’re also staying prepared for more possible violence by doing checks on all their equipment and making sure they have a plan in place.
"Being able to help anybody that’s in their time of need, that’s why I do it,” Chief William Dunn of the Glen Echo Volunteer Fire Department said.