Telling their stories: Det. Ronald Paulk
Det. Ronald Paulk, 47, Tampa Police Department, eight years in Army and National Guard:
June the 29th, 2010 was a hot and muggy night in East Tampa. Two O’Clock in the morning, serving as a midnight patrol officer struggling to stay awake. And then our tone alert went out on our police radio indicating an emergency call. Every cop’s nightmare. The dispatcher said two officers are down at 50th Street and 23rd Avenue. I was about a mile and a half from there.
I responded, not knowing what I would find there. Upon arriving on the scene and as I stepped out of my patrol car, I looked down to see two of my fellow officers shot in the head laying in the grass. At that moment, we didn’t know where the shooter was at or who shot them. My main concern was trying to tend to them as well.
I knelt down next to one of the officers and began doing CPR on him. I remember the paramedics coming. It felt like forever. I am sure it was probably just a couple of minutes before they got there. ..
I followed one ambulance to the hospital. I still remember pulling into TGH and the back doors of the ambulance opening and they were moving him with blood just falling out on the driveway of the hospital. I stayed with that officer all the way through the trauma, all the way until the nurse took his cross necklace and his wedding ring off. I still remember her washing the blood off of that to give to our chief and the mayor as they arrived at the hospital.
His wife came in. She was 9 months pregnant, in a state of catatonic shock. And all of these things just burnt into my memory. That was six years ago now.
The positive – if there can be such a thing in such a catastrophic event, both officers died from their injuries – is that through this incident led me to become part of our critical incident team. What we do is we are there to help other first responders in times of crisis. Not only for the city of Tampa but also for surrounding agencies.
And the message I would like to tell the public is the officers in Tampa are some of the finest in the nation and I work with them every day. I realize by the grace of god, had officer Curtis not stopped that car, I was about a mile down the road …. It could have easily been me that would have been killed. I realize god’s hand was over me that night.
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