SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — It has become so dangerous for first-responders in San Bernardino that they won't respond to a scene unless there is a police presence at the location.
This week, firefighters were apparently across the street from a scene where a 12-year-old boy lay dying after being shot.
Firefighters were across the street but waited for police.
"As soon as I saw him fall, I called 911 and said, 'Oh, my gosh, a kid has been shot,' " says Elsa Castro.
She was at a Circle K store when Jason Spears and his cousin were shot Sunday night. Spears later died, but Castro hoped he would hang on as they waited for help, which she thought would arrive quickly.
"I felt like running over there and just getting one of them and rush them to him," she said.
The boys were shot in this parking lot but paramedics wouldn't leave the firehouse until police arrived. It's policy in San Bernardino since the streets have become so dangerous that they now wait for police to arrive first, even if it's only across the street.
It took police eight minutes to arrive at the Circle K, and paramedics had to wait.
"We are definitely prioritizing calls," said Eileen Hards with the San Bernardino Police Department.
She acknowledges their response times aren't as fast as they'd like, but they're doing the best they can with their resources.
"There is a lot of crime going on in our city and obviously we want to respond to every call as quickly as possible. But our resources are down, the bankruptcy allowed for some cuts in the department, so we're slightly understaffed," Hards said.
"I understand protocol, but work faster, and when you hear it's a kid, just answer the call," Castro said.
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