In the early morning hours of Sunday, April 30, most residents of Lawrence were fast asleep, unaware of the violence that was unfolding at a 3 a.m. house party across town. At Lawrence General Hospital, however, the response to the mass shooting that left one dead and several others wounded, was already underway.
That interdisciplinary response, explains several hospital leaders, was nothing short of heroic. The highly-trained Emergency Center staff sprang into action, while others throughout the hospital – in the lab, registration, blood bank, imaging, and other departments – prepared for the patients to arrive. Across the Merrimack Valley, hospital staff who were not scheduled for work answered calls to help and came in to work to lend a hand during what the hospital declared a mass casualty incident.
“The team did an incredible job and did what they were trained to do. It went incredibly well,” said George Kondylis, MD, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We take for granted that our ED is one of the busiest in the state and it went off without a hitch.”
Kondylis was one of several hospital leaders who came together June 6 in the hospital’s Kurth Auditorium to recognize those staff members who answered the call to help the shooting victims. The event served as a way for those involved to come together so hospital leaders could praise their quick-thinking actions. Formal debriefing opportunities to fully process the event and allow leadership to examine mass casualty incident policies took place separately, according to Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Omer Moin.
“This event was no different than the gas explosions,” explained Moin. “In a matter of minutes, several employees banded together and took care of seven very sick individuals. This was on top of caring for an ER that you know is always full. Several employees had left their shift and came back to help their colleagues. Some had come in from home to help. This includes not just docs and nurses, but also transport, secretaries, EMS, lab, radiology -- without whom we would not be able to do our jobs. They all world class care for these patients and got them what they needed.”
Lawrence General Hospital Medical Staff President Eduardo Haddad, MD, came up with the idea to recognize the staff for what he called coming through a “war zone” on April 30 and said all involved deserved “medals of valor.”
“The drive to be an agent of saving lives — no matter whose life or the circumstances causing the trauma — is what runs in the blood of our staff,” Haddad said. “We are blessed to have those staff members amongst us.”