Doctors: Orlando shooting victims arrived by ‘truckloads’

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The first victim of the nightclub shooting arrived shortly after 2 a.m. and was relatively stable, giving doctors working the overnight shift hope that any others would arrive in a similar condition.

Then five more came, in much worse shape, and then more, and more still, until so many bleeding people were lining up in the emergency room that even hardened trauma surgeons and nurses were brought to tears.

“They were dropped off in truckloads, in ambulance-loads,” said Dr. Kathryn Bondani. The hospital ran out of ambulances, so firefighters, police and truck-driving citizens ferried the injured.

The trauma bay quickly overflowed with patients with serious gunshot wounds, forcing doctors performing triage to move critically injured people elsewhere and focus on those whose lives were most in danger.

Luckily, the Pulse nightclub isn’t far from Orlando Regional Medical Center, the region’s main trauma hospital, but its emergency room staff usually gets advance word when severe cases are on their way.

This time, victims started arriving within minutes after the shooting started. The staff had to scramble.

Choking up a bit, the attending trauma surgeon on call that night, Dr. Chadwick Smith, described how he and others called for reinforcements.

“I said, ‘please come, please come. We need your help,'” Smith said.

“This is not a drill. This is not a joke,” he told them. “‘I need you as fast as I can.’ Every answer I got was, ‘I’ll be right there.'”

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