Fort Hood Shooting Reopened Wounds At Trauma Unit

Fort Hood shooting victims were taken last week to the Scott and White Memorial Hospital, the same one that victims of the 2009 shooting. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with trauma director Matthew Davis.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. U.S. Army officials are saying that an argument may have set off Specialist Ivan Lopez, who went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood this past week. He killed four people, including himself, and injured 16 others. Those who survived were taken to Baylor Scott and White Hospital nearby in Temple, Texas. Dr. Matthew Davis is the head of the trauma program there. He and his staff also treated the injured after the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood.

DR. MATTHEW DAVIS: For a lot of people in the community - had some tremendous wounds from that previous encounter, both physically and emotionally. So I think that this was kind of a reopening of that scab. And I think for us in the hospital, it was just a shock that something like is would actually happen again. You know, we used that last incident as an opportunity to improve our capacity to deal with this, but we hoped we would never have to use it again, especially in something so similar.

MARTIN: Can you talk a little bit more about what, specifically, did change after that 2009 attack?

DAVIS: Some of the things we found were really small things, such as securing a building. We had reporters that were, you know, trying to get in back ways to talk to patients. So those are things - we're trying to protect patient confidentiality and make sure they were safe. And the things at the time of the actual shooting were just - how do we make sure that we have good communication with Fort Hood? And we've set up a special radio link between the two hospitals so that we can make sure we have real-time communication with them. And doing mass casualty exercises. We've have increased the frequency of those and we've have made the scale of those much larger. So there have been a lot multiple things on a lot of fronts and I think they paid off with large dividends this weekend.

MARTIN: Is there a different kind of emotional component in dealing with victims of a mass shooting, as opposed to a car wreck or other emergency?

DAVIS: There is to a degree. I think that taking care of people who are traumatically injured - one of the groups that's really difficult to take care of are children who are involved in a trauma. You almost kind of become shocked, and you can be a little bit immobilized and kind of paralyzed by the shock of the moment. And it takes training and experience to get past that and begin to work immediately and quickly to say that child's life. I would say there's a similar feeling when you're dealing with a mass casualty event. And I will say that unfortunately having experience with the 2009 event helped us overcome that feeling of paralysis. This time it was just very quickly right to work.

MARTIN: And do you and your staff - are there resources for you after something like this?

DAVIS: In terms of emotional support types of...

MARTIN: Yeah.

DAVIS: Yes, we do have that. That's something that we've done, not just for events like this, but because we take care of a lot of emotionally distressing events that can particular impact, I've found, our nurses. Our nurses tend to establish really personal connections with the patients and their families. And so we've really worked hard to set up some internal mechanisms to help, you know, debriefing after this occurs and help them talk through their feelings and work through it with our professional counselors.

MARTIN: Well, we know it's been a tough week for you and we appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. Dr. Matthew Davis is the director of the trauma unit at Baylor Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, which is near Fort Hood. Thanks so much for taking the time, Dr. Davis.

DAVIS: My pleasure, Rachel. Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.