COMMENTARY: University Medical Center rises to the occasion during shooting tragedy

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, Las Vegas continues to mourn and the wounded continue to heal as our community demonstrates an unparalleled level of unity in the face of an unspeakable tragedy.

Reflecting the strength of the community we serve, our team at UMC in Las Vegas came together Sunday night in an incredible display of unmatched skill, preparation and resilience to save dozens of lives.

While several patients arrived at UMC with no chance of survival, our team members saved everyone who had a possibility of living, and we now see many of these patients walking out our front doors and returning home to their families.

As Nevada’s only Level I Trauma Center, UMC has an incredible responsibility to provide the highest level of care, and our team delivered the best conceivable outcome in response to the most challenging situation we have ever faced.

The care UMC provided would not have been possible without the courageous efforts of the first responders. Members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, local firefighters and our community’s amazing EMS professionals risked their lives to save others, and we will never forget their bravery.

Shortly after the gunfire erupted Sunday night, our Emergency Department and trauma teams prepared for the worst to ensure patients had the best possible chance of survival.

Before the first patient entered our doors, additional workers from virtually every department began to arrive. We didn’t need to ask people twice; they arrived in droves, ready to assist in any way possible.

Many came in without being called as they watched the horror unfold on the news.

While walking through the halls of UMC this week, I see the weary faces of heroes who came together to provide life-saving care and unwavering compassion in our community’s greatest time of need.

Despite our shared exhaustion, we stop to thank one another, offering words of gratitude and encouragement. Sometimes it’s just a simple nod and a smile between colleagues, but the meaning remains the same: We are proud to stand together and offer the care our community deserves.

Early Tuesday morning, as I saw UMC chief of trauma Dr. John Fildes walking through the hallways, I marveled as team members from across the hospital took the opportunity to thank him for directing our trauma team’s efforts on the night of the shooting.

One interaction between Dr. Fildes and a member of our Environmental Services staff stands out in my mind.

Rather than simply accepting the praise and moving on to grab a much-needed cup of coffee, Dr. Fildes stopped and thanked his co-worker for toiling tirelessly to keep the trauma resuscitation area clean and constantly prepared for an influx of critically injured patients Sunday night and Monday morning. This interaction represents the true collaborative spirit of UMC and our hometown of Las Vegas.

This tragedy brought out the very best in our community. Every day, I see people delivering food, drinks and other essentials in an effort to provide some semblance of comfort to our patients and their families. Perhaps most importantly, community members lined up for hours upon hours to donate blood, doing their part to save lives.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the community for showing the world our unshakable strength and compassion.

While many people have shown incredible strength during the past few days, no one has displayed greater resilience than the victims of this tragic shooting.

These men and women continue to inspire as they recover from devastating injuries.

We have developed strong bonds with these patients and will work tirelessly to heal their wounds and help them return to their homes and families.

Our work is far from done, but I remain confident that no bullet can damage the spirit of our patients, our hospital and our community.

Mason VanHouweling is the CEO of University Medical Center.

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