AURORA - Farrah Soudani grimaced each and every time the police hit another bump. Her abdomen was open, and the pain from the wound was getting more and more intense.
BLOG: Why studying the Aurora response is important
A minute or two into the ride, she asked an officer to open the window next to her.
"I just remember how fast the air was coming in," she recalls nearly a year after the exodus from Aurora's Century 16 theater. "I could tell we were going easily over 100 [mph.]"
It was then that a moment a peace came over her body.
"I remember looking out the window and just seeing how pretty the stars were and how clear the night was, Soudani said. "I remember I liked looking at the stars, so I just soaked that in before anything else. I was just trying to calm myself a little bit."
Soudani was one of the 26 wounded who were ferried out of the chaos inside police cars very early on the morning of July 20, 2012. She credits the police officers actions for saving her life as well as many others.
"They just did it, and they knew it was the right thing to do," she said.
INTERACTIVE 'AFTER AURORA' SPECIAL SECTION
The first police car to leave the parking lot of the Century 16 theater did so at 12:49 a.m. One minute and 50 seconds later, it dropped off its first patient at the Medical Center of Aurora.
The police car Joshua Nowlan eventually found himself in left at 12:58 a.m. His right arm had nearly been obliterated by a bullet less than a half hour prior.
"They put me in the front seat," Nowlan said. "This is probably the only time in my life I can laugh about it a little bit because the police officer in the back seat was screaming at the police officer in front to 'Go! Go! Go!', but I was like, 'Wait!' I'm literally going over screaming and then grabbing my seatbelt trying to buckle myself into the car. I'm sure [the officers] were thinking, 'We're not going to give you a ticket.'"
Most of the police cars left with more than one patient. There was one other patient in the car Nowlan was in that night.
"I just remember screaming to him to hold on," he said. "That whole time, that was the only thing I was thinking about. I couldn't tell you how quickly we got to the hospital. It still seemed like forever. It was probably minutes, but I feel like it was an hour drive."
There was a woman in the car with Pierce O'Farrill who had suffered serious wounds to her foot and her arm. She, too, was a stranger.
"She was kind of drifting in and out. The officers told me to keep her up. So, I just started to talk to her. I was just trying to think of anything to talk about to keep her awake," O'Farrill said.
"They were definitely driving pretty fast," he said.
OTHER STORIES AS WE REMEMBER AURORA
The members of the Aurora Police Department who shuttled patient after patient from the theater to the Medical Center of Aurora as well as University of Colorado Hospital remain unable to publicly discuss the events of that night due to the ongoing gag order in association with the pending court case.
The last patient to leave the scene did so at 1:28 a.m. in a car marked simply "APD 302" according to a report commissioned by the Aurora Fire Department. APD 302 took four trips to the two hospitals that night and carried a total of eight patients.
A 9NEWS analysis shows at least four ambulances responded to the scene that night and never carried one patient to the hospital.
Soudani, Nowlan and O'Farrill will not criticize paramedics or the fire department for the response that night, but they all feel the need to praise the work of the police officers who they believe prevented the number of dead from going above 12.
"I believe that sometimes you have to take that initial action," Nowlan said. "Their action was completely selfless. The only thought in their mind was, 'We have to get them to the hospital now.' They couldn't wait."
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