Dr. Douglas Fraser wants to help people when they need it most

Ask Roy and Diane Fraser if they expected that their son Douglas — now a UMC trauma surgeon and police SWAT team doctor — would end up regularly saving lives and they’ll tell you through a story they relish sharing that he started practicing saving the lives of bears at the age of 9.

It seems he was a rambunctious Southern California boy whose heroes were Batman and Superman. Like many big brothers, he often wanted to impress upon his little sister that he was brave, courageous and bold.

One day he came up with a complex plan to show his sister just how daring he was. The first part of the plan involved convincing 5-year-old Laura he should throw all of her beloved Care Bears from the second floor balcony to the ground.

Why? Well, so he could practice bringing them to safety in case someone else came along and threw her Care Bears to the ground. After much hand-wringing, Laura, bless her heart, bought her brother’s reasoning.

After the bears hit the ground, Laura began to cry. Douglas swung into action. First, he rigged a rope from the balcony’s railing. Then he ran downstairs, put the bears in a laundry basket and attached the rope hanging from the railing.

He returned to the balcony and pulled the rope and the basket of bears to safety, to the squealing delight of his sister.

“Laura was quite impressed,” Dr. Douglas Fraser says as he sits in an office at University Medical Center, grinning as he’s asked about the story that’s become part of Fraser family lore. “I practiced my technique on her Care Bears more than once. I guess I knew early on that much of success is in the planning.”

In less than three years in Las Vegas, the 38-year-old surgeon’s penchant for planning, coupled with the ability to improvise when, say, an artery ruptures, has already made him a dynamic force in emergency medicine in Las Vegas.

“I have found over the years that I work best under pressure — I need the adrenalin rush to perform at my highest level,” he says one night before entering a UMC operating room to perform a tracheotomy on a car accident patient who’s unable to breathe on his own. In a few minutes an opening is surgically created through the neck into the windpipe to allow direct access to a breathing tube.

At this year’s recent UMC luncheon for trauma survivors — each year former patients who can only be defined as walking miracles socialize with the medical staff that saved their lives — Fraser was honored for his work with 14-year-old Janeen Hinden and her mother’s fiance, Stephen Picardi.

Shot in a home invasion in February where the assailants got away, both suffered critical wounds, with the teen nearly bleeding out from damage to her femoral artery, the main artery of the upper leg and abdomen. Such wounds are often fatal because an individual can entirely bleed out within five minutes. But Fraser managed to tie it off.

Initial reports were that the gunshot trauma to Picardi’s legs were so severe that he’d lose use of them. Hours of surgery by Fraser saved his leg.

Janeen Hinden, the mother of the teen and fiancee of Picardi, is clear about what happened.

“I know Stephen and Janeen are alive today because of Dr. Fraser. He’s not only talented, he’s gifted.”

Fraser receives similar kudos from 31-year-old Andrew Brown, an Alabama businessman who was burned over a third of his body last July in a private plane accident that also seriously injured three others at Henderson Executive Airport.

“It never seemed too big for him,” Brown says in a telephone interview from his Alabama building supply company. “He’s never too high or too low as he works on you. I was conscious the whole time as I was brought in. And it’s crazy how accurate he’s been on my recovery. I wanted to make sure I managed my scarring and he said in a month it’ll be like this, two months like this. He’s been right on the money.”

Dr. John Fildes, director of UMC’s trauma department, said Fraser was brought to Las Vegas on a surgical trauma fellowship after excelling during a Rutgers University surgical residency on the East Coast. He was hired after the two-year fellowship training was concluded because he had the ability to handle the most difficult cases with “great calm and clarity … his technical skills are really refined.”

Fraser joined a trauma surgery team with a remarkable record. Statistics from the National Trauma Data Bank reveal that of those who arrive alive at Nevada’s only Level 1 trauma center — where many have less than a 1 percent chance to live — 96 percent survive and are discharged.

Dr. Dale Carrison, UMC’s chief of staff and a key figure in the development of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support unit that provides medical support to special weapons and tactics teams operated by the Metropolitan Police Department, says a key factor in keeping Fraser in Las Vegas after his fellowship was the opportunity for him to work with SWAT.

“The challenge of practicing medicine in an austere environment, providing the best medicine in the worst place, really appeals to him,” Carrison says. “He’s the kind of young blood we need to keep the program operating at a high level.”

On a recent evening, Fraser and several other doctors and police officers who comprise the all-volunteer tactical medical team gathered to grade the training efforts of another officer, Chris Loucks, who was attempting to become part of the unit formed because of the high-risk environments SWAT teams operate in.

Studies show that SWAT team members sustain injuries at the rate of 33 per 1,000 officer missions, with wounds often requiring immediate attention. Dr. John Anson once kept three officers who had been shot during a mission from bleeding out.

Although a tactical medical team is along to help officers, if none needs help on a mission but a suspect or victim of a crime does, the team provides medical help to them.

Carrison once won Metro’s highest “lifesaving” award when he kept a drug suspect from dying from an artery that burst from a gunshot.

Dressed in combat gear, the 6-foot 3-inch, 230-pound Fraser looks imposing. So far his talents haven’t been needed in the field by SWAT officers.

“You have to stay in shape for this,” Fraser says smiling, not breathing hard after the unit’s mile run wearing bulletproof vests.

Whenever SWAT teams are deployed in Las Vegas, so is a tactical rescue vehicle containing a physician and medic. The medics are all search and rescue police officers who have been trained by physicians.

Fraser watches intently as Loucks and the physician working with him, Dr. Kevin Menes, deal with scenarios that include officers downed by gunshots and an officer wounded from a detonation charge that explodes early.

Darkness envelops the facility as Loucks places tourniquets on officers who act the role of the wounded.

“He’s getting the procedures down well,” Fraser says. “Speed will come later.”

Fraser’s entry into medicine was far from a sure thing.

Early in high school, where he was a star lineman with thoughts of an NFL career, he thought of fulfilling a dream he had as a child of becoming a firefighter and paramedic if athletics didn’t pan out.

“As I boy, I used to hose down our house pretending it was on fire,” Fraser says. “My mother didn’t appreciate that because I flooded her planters and killed her plants.”

The better he did academically in school, the more Fraser started to think about becoming a doctor. He decided he could help more people that way. After entering Notre Dame and walking onto the football team, Fraser decided medicine, more than football, was important to him. He quit the team, worked on his grades and became a commissioned member of the fire department.

“I loved that work,” he says. “You really got to help a lot of people in different ways.”

Although he was nearly an all-A student, he didn’t get into medical school right away. A score on a standardized test wasn’t high enough. He got a master’s degree at Boston University in science and tried again. Once again he didn’t get in.

“It was quite depressing,” he says as he stands outside an operating room. “I decided the FBI could be a good career. I passed all the tests and just as I was about to go for Quantico for training, I got a call from a medical school.”

So his third try for medical school was the charm. He sailed through classes and training at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada as well as his surgical training at Rutgers.

“At first I felt bad about going to a foreign med school but here I was sitting next to all these guys from Harvard and Yale. And when I went to Rutgers in the States for my surgical training there was no one better. I found I wanted to do it all day and all night. I still feel the same way today. It’s what I have a passion for, helping people when they need it most.”

Contact Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @paulharasim on Twitter.

Protesters Line Streets for President Trump's Arrival in Las Vegas
Hundreds lined the streets in front of Suncoast to protest President Donald Trump's arrival in Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Thunder Mountain monument stands as a tribute to Native American culture
Caretaker Fred Lewis talks about Thunder Mountain monument in central Nevada, made from concrete and found items. The five-acre site is a tribute to Native Peoples of the West. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New CCSD superintendent Jesus F. Jara aims for 1st in the nation
On his third day as Clark County School District superintendent, Jesus F. Jara talks about his vision for the future during a visit to Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Ceremony Recognizes Refugee Students, Graduates
Rosy Mibulano, a graduate of Las Vegas High School who came to America from the Congo in 2015, was recognized in a ceremony for refugee students in Clark County. Like many other students relocated to Las Vegas from countries around the world, Rosy had a challenging high school experience, from learning English to adjusting to American customs and taking care of her family. On top of that, she wants to go to school to become a nurse so she can take care of her mother, who suffers from diabetes. The annual Refugee Recognition Ceremony celebrates the enormous lengths these young adults go through to create a new life for themselves. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Water leak at Mandalay Bay convention center
The convention center area of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas experienced major flooding Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Melinda Cook
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like