I was on trauma call the day of the Pulse incident. It had been busy, as usual for a Saturday in June, and we had seen around 20 new patients over 18 hours. I had performed several operations late into the evening. I had texted my wife a picture of me laying down to go to bed at 23:01, only to be immediately paged back to the emergency department for a trauma alert.
Finishing up with patient care in the emergency department yet again, I made one last check with my team before heading to the call room for some sleep. All of the work from the long day and night up until about 01:30 had been completed. Retiring to the call room in the older part of the hospital, I laid down to try and get some sleep around 01:45. This was finally going to be a period when I could perhaps get a little rest.
Shortly after I drifted off to sleep, my phone rang. It was the emergency department resident physician calling me directly. Even in my slumberous haze, I thought it odd that she would call me directly. Her voice was pressured, at an unusually fast tempo and laced with anxiety. “Dr. Smith, we have been notified there is a mass shooting taking place with potentially 20 or more gunshot wound patients who are going to be brought to the emergency department,” she exclaimed. “I’ll be right there,” I replied. I hurriedly dressed and left the call room.
Although my trek from the call room to the emergency department felt like thousands before, that was not the case when I walked into the trauma bay. The sense of urgency that emanated from team members there was more than usual. It was about to begin.