Trauma surgeon appears on CNN’s Headline News to discuss the anniversary of the Las Vegas tragedy


– It has been a year since
the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Up next, I’m going to speak
with a member of an ER Team. They were the first responders to treat hundreds of people on that horrible night. As we mark one year since
the Las Vegas shooting, we wanted to focus on some of the amazing heroes of that night, the doctors and nurses
who helped save lives. 58 people died when a man opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. Hundreds more were injured
and needed to be treated. Most of those that were injured were taken to the HCA Sunrise Hospital
and Medical Center. It is the very closest
hospital to the Vegas Strip, and in fact, they treated 199
patients that night and day. Joining me now is trauma
surgeon, Dr. Matt Johnson. He was on duty that terrible night. And doctor, I can imagine
you’ve seen a lot in your career and I know that likely, October 1st, 2017, will not leave your memory any time soon. – That is very correct. It is such a tragedy. The largest, you know, mass casualty in United States history, on this soil, and today is definitely
a day of remembrance. – [News anchor] I wanted to
give a little bit of hope at the end of our conversation and I also wanted to get your feelings on where we are as a nation. But, I think, it bears
going back to that day. I know that facilities like yours train. You train for mass casualty events, and you hope that they
never cross your threshold, but this one did. What do you remember most
about that terrible night? – Well, there was such an
influx of patients that night, and you know, yes we do undergo training, all of us do in our field, but there was a complete outpouring of all of our staff that night. Even from neighboring hospitals,
bringing over supplies. But, people who work for Sunrise Hospital, everybody came in. and when I initially arrived, it seemed, I’m not in the military myself, but it was nearly a war zone. But it became a very organized
chaos, as we call it, where everyone just
focused on doing their job, and treating and fixing and saving as many patients as we absolutely could. – [News Anchor] You guys work under sort of emergent situations
every night, right? An emergency room in Las Vegas is gonna see it’s share of injuries, and trauma and motor vehicle accidents, but in a situation like this, all hands on deck approach is the only way you could survive this. I understand there are even people that hadn’t officially had their
first day of work there, that were sort of thrown into the fray? – Yes, that is correct. One of our main guys
in central processing, named Dwayne, he was due
to start work the next day, and he ensured that all of these trays for the surgical procedures we did had such a rapid turnover, in fact, you know, we even had another gentleman drive all the way up from San Benardino just to assist in surgeries. – Wow. – There was a complete outpour. And, you know, yes we do
see this type of trauma all the time, almost
everyday and every night, but not all at once. So, that’s the difference
and everything had to be strategically separated
into the different types of injuries as well as the different type of surgeries that these patients needed. And, like I said before,
there was such an outpouring of all of the medical staff, from administration to
physicians to nurses to surgical tacks,
everybody, just showed up to complete the work
that needed to be done and save as many people as possible. – [News Anchor] Save many
lives, comfort people who are terribly afraid, the
worst day of their lives, the worst night of their lives, loved ones who don’t know the
fate of their family members. How has that night changed you, doctor? You’re a guy, you live in
Vegas, that’s your home. How has it changed you? – You know, it’s changed me dramatically, you know, I do have a fear nowadays to not attend so many
public concerts or events. I’m always looking for what’s
my exit plan and so forth. It’s definitely affected
me in so many ways, and still to this day, I’m
taking care of patients who were the unfortunate
victims of that night. So, it’s affected my life forever, and it’s such a horrible tragedy. – [News Anchor] I wanna end with some hope because out of all of this, there has been a tremendous amount of it. Your last patient, who likely was the last
patient to be discharged, a wonderful, beautiful woman by the name of Rosemary Melanson, she spent months in the hospital. I see a mile on your face, tell us about Miss Rosemary. – Well, she was one of
the unfortunate victims that despite having, if she
would have died that night, she made it through, she’s been through so many surgeries and had lots of complications
from those surgeries, just because of the
extent of her injuries. And I’ve become extremely close with both her, her husband
and their two daughters to the point where
sometimes I make house calls to make sure she’s taken care of. She just went home last
week, last Wednesday, for the first time since the event. She had some interim time periods where she was home for a
total of about five weeks, but she was again back in the hospital. But, now she’s home and
she’s home for good. And I was just at her house yesterday, and she’s doing great. And so that just makes me
feel all the joy in the world. – [News Anchor] She is the
epitome of #VegasStrong. Dr. Johnson, you know when
we have these conversations about gun violence in our nation it is people like you
that we need to talk to, because as a surgeon you see everything. But, even this event changed your worldview and your life view. We hope that there’s
healing for you doctor, thank you for the healing
work you do for so many, the comfort you’re providing
to so many families. We respect you immensely, and we’re so grateful for you. – Thank you very much, I appreciate that.

Maurice Vega

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