Parkland Hospital: Voices from History

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Pandemonium

Pandemonium at Parkland Hospital
Dallas Times Herald Collection

Hospital personnel moved all other emergency room patients to other locations as soon as the presidential limousine arrived. Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his wife were escorted into the nearby Minor Medicine area for safety. Secret Service agents and Dallas police officers surrounded the area. Authorities commandeered phone lines and sealed off the emergency room. This prevented anyone leaving with word of the president's condition and also kept the crowd of reporters outside from entering the hospital.

When Vice President Johnson received word of President Kennedy's death, he and Lady Bird Johnson left the hospital at 1:26 p.m., before an official announcement could be made to the press. Parkland staff quickly turned a nurses' classroom into a makeshift press room for the announcement by Assistant White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff.

Meanwhile, outside the emergency room entrance, crowds of anxious bystanders, reporters and officials traveling in the motorcade waited for word of the president's condition.