-- The massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando left dozens of people dead or injured, families reeling and a nation in shock. It has also had a lasting impact on the medical professionals who treated the victims.
Dr. Chadwick Smith, the trauma team leader at Orlando Regional Medical Center, was still raw with emotion when he talked about treating the victims of the Sunday attack unleashed at the club by Omar Mateen. He killed 49 people and injured 53 others before being shot dead by police.
“I was walking out of the hospital, and walking out I saw team members walking into work crying,” he said at a press conference at the hospital yesterday.
Despite their heightened emotions, the caregivers at the Level 1 trauma center did their jobs.
“I will tell you we have the best nurses in the world. There is no question in my mind ... Doctors come by for maybe 15, 20 minutes a day. You have a nurse for 24 hours, so the nurses are the true caregivers,” said Dr. Michael Cheatham, the center’s chief surgeon. “The nurses did a phenomenal job.”
Angel Colon was shot three times in the leg and left to die. Speaking at the press conference, nurse Megan Noblet grew emotional as she talked to Colon and described that night.
“I think you were my second patient, because I got the call at 3 a.m., and I came in, and he was very brave, and I just remember his name was Angel ... It was a very chaotic night, but all of us as a team worked together, and we were able to do a very good job,” she said.
“I love you guys,” Colon said.
Noblet said, “We probably cried at work. A lot of us did.”
Julia Warren, another nurse, said, “There were a lot of hugs” at the hospital.
“The whole night was scary,” she said. “You have to put that aside because your patients are so scared ... I know everybody wishes they could do more.”
Noblet said she was “just so glad that we could help as many as we could.”
Asked what she would say to any nursing students, Warren replied, “Have compassion. Do it. Be a nurse. We need you. I don’t want there to be future tragedies like this, but we need people to be there for these victims to help.”