HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — First responders in Highland Park have had little sleep since July 4, playing several key roles in the mass shooting response.

“No firefighter or EMT thinks they’re going to be a combat medic in a community like Highland Park,” said Fire Chief Joe Schrage. “We didn’t do it alone. The community was there with us.”

The chief says every firefighter, on duty and off, got to work, treating the injured.

Their response was assisted by the team at Highland Park’s 911 operations center, overseen by Brent Reynolds. He says it’s a tough job on a typical day. But on July 4, the team fielded more than 400 calls in the first hour after the shooting, haunted by what they heard.

“I hope nobody ever has to hear those calls,” the Glenview Public Safety Dispatch Center head said.

It was tradition for Highland Park’s fire department to participate in the area parade. So first responders were there when shots rang and parade-goers dispersed in a panic.

“The spray of bullets hit people in different spots,” Reynolds said. “Police officers came and did coverages while they were working on these patients and watching for the shooter because the shooter was still on the loose,” Reynolds said.

Doctors and nurses attending the parade pitched in, too, helping apply tourniquets and bandages.

“The absolute worst 911 telephone calls I’ve ever listened to, Reynolds said. “Family members calling about their family members being shot..”

Usually, dispatchers don’t know what happened after that initial call – they only hear the story’s beginning. This time was different.

“Because of all the attention, the magnitude of this situation, they’re hearing the end,” Reynolds said. “They’re still living, they’re still living this.”