KK: What did you do with your existing patients?
RP: The existing patients basically were moved to the other side of the ER just to open up the main department so that we’d have the first 10 rooms open to take patients.
KK: Were people understanding when you told them that they were in the waiting room and that you wouldn’t be able to see them right away?
RP: That’s actually a very interesting story. The waiting room at that time was pretty full. The nursing supervisor went out and said, “I wanted to let you all know there’s been a shooting. There’s a number of very sick victims that are going to be coming in, and it’s probably going to be a one- to two-hour delay before we are able to bring anybody back.” All the people in the emergency department volunteered to leave and come back later.
KK: From the time you got to the department, how long before you started seeing some patients?
RP: Less than a minute. I got to the car, ran back, threw some scrubs on, and walked out. Lisa Beth Titus is our trauma coordinator. She was in the front doing triage, and she said, “You have 30 seconds or so. I’m going to send the first victims to the trauma rooms, and the third one I’ll send to you.” I popped into the room and introduced myself. I said, “We’ll be the team. We’ll assess this as fast as we can. If there’s something we can do for this patient, we’ll do it. And if we can’t, we’ll have to move on.”
KK: How many total patients did your department receive?
RP: We ended up getting 10. I think there were 20 total, with 10 deaths, and we ended up getting 10 of those in the ER.
KK: How many did you personally take care of?
RP: I took care of four.
KK: That’s plenty.
RP: The initial patient I got unfortunately sustained injuries that weren’t compatible with life, so we had to move on to the next one. The next three I got were all extremity injuries. The really ill patients had moved into the trauma bays and were being taken care of by Wade Fox, DO, FACEP, and Jennifer Bodenhamer, DO.
KK: If you care to share one moment from this whole event that weighed on you emotionally, I’d be interested to hear what that was.