Doctors Recall Chaos in Shooting’s Wake

     (CN) – Doctors who treated the wounded from the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub on Sunday morning called the massacre “the largest disaster we probably could have imagined” and suggested the death toll may rise in coming days.
     Speaking with reporters at the Orlando Regional Medical Center Tuesday morning, Dr. Michael Cheatham, a trauma surgeon, said while hospitals and trauma centers prepare for disasters, “you can never prepare adequately.”
     Forty-nine people were killed when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in the nightclub shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday morning. More than 50 people were wounded in the attack. Mateen later died in a shootout with police.
     Cheatham said 44 patients were brought to the hospital in two waves, the first coming shortly after the shooting, and the second, at around 5 a.m.
     He said nine patients died at the hospital on Sunday and that since then most of the rest have steadily improved. Currently 27 victims remain at the facility and of that number, six are “critically ill.” He said the hospital is doing everything it can for them, and asked that the public remember them in their prayers.
     Cheatham said that as a crush of casualties arrived on stretchers from the nightclub Sunday morning, the hospital increased the number of operating rooms it was utilizing from two to six.
     He also said surgeons performed eight surgeries Monday and another eight are scheduled for Tuesday.
     Dr. Kathryn Bondani said the first patient to arrive at the hospital Sunday morning was in relatively stable condition, and emergency room staff initially hoped the others they were told were coming would be in a similar condition.
     But Bondani said the next several patients that arrived did so in much more dire shape.
     Another of the doctors who addressedthe news media, Dr. Chadwick Smith, choked up as he recalled the events of Sunday morning and the hours that followed.
     He recalled that as ambulance-loads of patients began to arrive, he started calling additional staff and telling them they were needed at the hospital right away.
     “This is not a drill, this is not a joke,” he recalled saying, adding that everyone he spoke to responded by saying, “I’ll be right there.”
     Angel Colon, who survived after being shot five times also shared his story Tuesday morning.
     Beginning by thanking hospital staff, Colon said, “I really appreciate all the love I’ve gotten in the three days I have been here.”
     Colon described his Saturday night out as a good one, filled with friends, dancing, laughing and drinks. As 2 a.m. approached, Colon and his friends were calling it a night, hugging and saying their goodbyes, when shots rang out.
     Through tears, he explained that he was shot three times in his legs and tried to run, but fell. He was trampled by other patrons running to safety and his left leg was shattered.
     He said he heard the gunman move toward the back of the building and thought he was out of harm’s way.
     “I thought I was a little safe at this time, because, you know it was giving everyone time to tackle him down or get him down,” he said.
     Then Mateen came back.
     Colon said the gunman began shooting people already on the ground and shot the woman who was laying right next to him on the floor.
     “I’m thinking, I’m next. I’m dead,” Colon said. “I don’t know how, by the glory of God, he shoots toward my head, but it hits my hand. Then he shoots me again and it hits the side of my hip.”
     Colon said he didn’t react for fear the gunman would realize he was alive.
     He was rescued moments later by a law enforcement officer who stopped to see if he was alive, and who dragged him across a floor covered with broken glass to get him to safety.
     “I didn’t feel pain, but I just felt all this blood on me, from myself, from other people,” Colon said.
     The officer took him to the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant across the street from the nightclub.
     “I looked over and there were just bodies everywhere,” Colon said. “We’re all in pain.”
     “If it wasn’t for you guys,” Colon said, gesturing to the hospital staff. “I definitely wouldn’t be here.”

%d bloggers like this: