11 years ago, when I watched the Pediatric ICU at the Hershey Medical Center treat victims of a shooting at an Amish schoolhouse, I thought it would be the most horrific thing I ever witnessed.
It wasn’t. After Nickel Mines, there was Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Aurora, Colorado. 5 years ago, I was having flashbacks while watching the news from the Surgical ICU in Iowa City. It had happened again. To children. At an elementary school. In Newtown, Connecticut.
That’s when I thought something would change. The world would not stand idly as first graders were murdered in their classrooms. But then there was Charleston, San Bernadino, Orlando, and now, Las Vegas. Numbed by the sheer numbers, I thought this morning, will something change now? Is this enough? 59 dead and more than 500 wounded?
How many lives does it take to realize what one is worth?
I am a Trauma Surgeon. I have made it my life’s work to care for patients who are the victims of violent tragedies. Death and devastation are part of my daily routine because it is too easy for anyone to pull a trigger and ruin a life. I trained for nearly a decade to understand and assess what happens to the body when a hot ball of lead blasts through it.
It takes seconds for a single bullet to carve a path of destruction. It can take me hours in the OR to find and fix the injuries, if I even can. It may take a lifetime for a patient and his family to recover from the trauma.
Not all scars are visible, and not all damage can be undone.
I can tell horror stories about my worst nights on call, but none of them will ever compare to what happened at Las Vegas early this morning. One gunshot victim is a challenge. Two are stressful. Three are overwhelming. 59? Incapacitating. Unfathomable. Inhuman.
I am a Trauma Surgeon, and gun violence, unfortunately, is my livelihood. But, once again, just like last year, just like 5 years ago in Newtown, just like 11 years ago in Nickel Mines… This is too much.
The epidemic of gun violence is real and rampant. It’s not just Las Vegas. It’s everywhere, and it needs to stop. Please help me raise awareness for the needless loss of life due to gun violence in Las Vegas, and in all the other places we thought would be the last time.