UF Trauma surgeon gives glimpse into ER during mass shootings


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Their goal is to save as many lives as possible and that's exactly what they did.

When survivors of the nightclub shooting in Orlando starting pouring into hospitals, six trauma surgeons and hundreds of staff members jumped into action.

Hospital staff said operations went into the overnight hours. Doctors performed 27 operations in the last 24 hours. After identifying the most critical injuries, those victims were taken care of first, and then doctors got started on the non-life-threatening injuries.

"We normally have the capacity to have three operating rooms running, by virtue of being the only level one trauma center in central Florida. We talked with the OR staff, our anesthesiologists, they immediately started calling in extra teams, so we were up to six rooms within about ninety minutes. We brought in our OR staff from the adjacent pediatric trauma center, and from the adjacent women's hospital, so we were able to quickly get six operating rooms up and running to be able to take care of the victims," said Dr. Michael Cheatham

Doctor David Skarupa is a trauma surgeon at UF Health level one trauma center. The center is where victims would go if something like this happened in Jacksonville. He gives a glimpse of how the staff is trained for a similar scenario. "The surgeons, the nurses, the doctors, all the healthcare providers have extensive training and we also go through drill throughout our training and at the current institution to do the best that we can to prepare not only physically but mentally for these types of events," said Skarupa.

Skarupa says one of the unique things at UF health is they have a trauma psychology group on hand to not only help with the victims and families, but also the healthcare providers. " It's a wonderful resource which we can utilize to decompress. There is evidence that post traumatic stress disorder does occur in health care providers," said Skarupa.

A news conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Orlando Regional Medical Center on Tuesday. Eight trauma surgeons will share their experiences from the day of the Nightclub Terror attack. Two patients whose lives were saved will also tell their stories from the horrific night.