WASHINGTON - Some protesters pretended to be injured so they could be treated by emergency medical staff and remain behind police lines, according to an Arlington firefighter who responded to the Capitol riot in January.
The Arlington County Fire Department was one of a number of agencies from surrounding communities that had been asked in advance to join the law enforcement response in D.C.'s Capitol Hill area on Jan. 6.
Police anticipated some level of civil disturbance surrounding a rally featuring President Donald Trump in response to the Electoral College vote certification – but were quickly overwhelmed when the mob stormed the Capitol itself.
Arlington County Fire Department public information officer Taylor Blunt says he was one of only two medics on the scene when the insurrection erupted, and they were immediately beset by the mob.
They were joined later by medical teams from other departments.
Blunt says they treated eight police officers on the scene, four of whom were unable to walk.
According to Blunt the officers had been "pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters."
In addition, they treated about seven protesters – some of whom sustained injuries, and some who "feigned illness to remain behind police lines."
In each case, they were able to deliver the injured protester to police whether for transport or arrest.
Blunt paints a scene that became all-too-familiar in the following weeks, as social media and surveillance video surfaced showing the mob of protesters sacking the Capitol, and assaulting law enforcement officers.
Five people died during the riot – and, while Blunt says he heard radio calls for three of them, he notes that there was no way for his team to reach them due to the condensed crowding around the Capitol.
One of the people who died was a Capitol police officer.