University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, mass casualties: the shootings in Las Vegas have locked the national attention and horrified everyone watching. I’ve no interest in the politics of the scene, and am not here to discuss the motivations, terrors, opposing views, or potential societal consequences of this nightmare.
This site celebrates “authentic” medicine, and advocates for physicians at their best, doing what they and we all want them to do. At this writing, 59 are dead and many others wounded, some grievously. There are a plethora of decent internet stories that can give you the numbers of surgeons, ER docs, nurses, trauma bays, shuffling, and adaptations that have gone on to handle what must have felt like a tidal wave to the folks at the back of the ambulances. I’ve only worked in small ER’s in rural areas, which can get dicey sometimes, but “mass casualties” is something we give occasional lip service too, a virtual drill every couple of years, and never, ever expect to see. To be at the epicenter of true mass casualties in a major city must have been an experience almost as wrenching for the medical teams as for many of the victims.
Those of you who read my stuff know there is a lot that I really dislike about modern health care, and what it has done to this profession. But there is at least one thing that I truly love about it. At every stage of my medical career, from medical school through residency, in offices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, mission trips, and ER’s, there has been one consistent, wonderful fact: whenever someone is truly sick, or really injured, from the most junior housekeeping staff to the most senior surgeon, and everyone in between, dives in to help the patient. I have never once seen an exception to this, and I really admire it as all of us at our best.
Sunday night the very best in bystanders, first responders, police, fire, and EMS personnel was immediately evident. And though the cameras won’t show it, you and I know that the teams in the hospitals from top to bottom were on their game and practicing truly authentic medicine.