“I’ll never forget that day; it was one of the most awful events I’ve ever experienced in my EMS career.”
Even after nearly a year-and-a half since a mass shooting shook our nation, Michael Arquette still remembers details of that tragedy as if it happened yesterday. That’s because Arquette, operations supervisor with American Medical Response (AMR), was the EMS leader who managed the shooting’s emergent care response.
“Michael is a true hero,” says Eric Conley, operations manager for AMR, a member of Global Medical Response. “The level of care, expertise and compassion he demonstrated on that day is utterly amazing.”
That “day” that Conley is referring to is May 14, 2022, when 10 people were killed and three others were wounded after a gunman opened fire at a neighborhood supermarket in the Buffalo area. The EMS care that Arquette led and provided on-scene not only stood out as a symbol of hope among those who needed dire medical intervention, but also led to Arquette being selected for one of the highest honors an EMS professional can receive: the 2023 American Ambulance Association (AAA) Stars of Life Awards.
The prestigious recognition, which lauds the “best of the best” in our nation’s EMS industry, is formally awarded to peer-chosen EMS first responders at a ceremonial extravaganza in Washington D.C. from November 5-8.
Arquette, who says he feels privileged to receive this distinction, was not only nominated for delivering superb patient care that day, but also for the incredible assistance he offered his co-workers as they, too, had to deal with the trauma associated with caring for the injured.
“That day was tragic, and yet, there was Michael staying focused on caring for the victims, making sure they got the treatment they needed while also protecting his fellow EMS professionals from having to witness more than they needed to see,” says Conley.
So how did he do it? How did he remain undistracted during the mayhem?
“I just remember taking a deep breath and going right to work, directing all my attention to providing emergency medical intervention to everyone I could who was affected by that disastrous situation,” says Arquette, who adds that he’s no warrior or “knight in shining armor,” but rather a citizen who loves his home and believes in its strength to overcome adversity, even one as evil as the massacre that day.
“I don’t think of myself as a ‘hero,’ but as someone who was just doing my job in caring for my community.”