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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Speakers recount events of shooting

	Doctors, nurses, paramedics and friends of Gabrielle Giffords recount the shoots of Jan 8th, 2011 to students, faculty, and Tucson residents.
Zuleima Cota

Doctors, nurses, paramedics and friends of Gabrielle Giffords recount the shoots of Jan 8th, 2011 to students, faculty, and Tucson residents.

Members of the ASUA Student Health Advocacy program introduced doctors, nurses, paramedics and friends of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to students, faculty and Tucson residents to explain what happened during the critical hours after the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting.

Speakers included Brad Bradley, battalion chief of Emergency Medical Services; Dr. Randall Friese, associate professor of surgery; Katie Riley, director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations for the Arizona Health Sciences Network and Dr. Andreas Theodorou, professor of pediatrics and chief medical officer for the University of Arizona Medical Center.

Bradley used a PowerPoint presentation to explain the timeline of events that happened on Jan. 8, 2011. At 10:10 a.m. the call was made to 911, explaining the congresswoman had been shot. Four minutes later, Bradley was the first responder to get to the Safeway parking lot where the shooting took place.

“I arrived on the scene and immediately made sure that the suspect was in custody,” he said. “Once that was made sure, our biggest problem was establishing who was injured and who wasn’t.”

Bradley said the suspect fired 32 rounds of bullets in 19 seconds, hitting someone with each round. It was faster to use ground support than a helicopter to get to the scene, he said, and by 11:04 a.m., the last patient had arrived in the trauma bay.

“Our world was a mess after 52 minutes, but I am thankful that we established all the injured and transferred them to the bay within the first-hour period,” Bradley added.

Dr. Katherine Hiller, an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, was on call in the department when the emergency room was initially notified of the incident. The first victim was 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green, who was in critical condition.

“My first initial thoughts were to do CPR on her to get her stabilized, and at the same time, I was thinking, ‘This is not good.’”

Hiller had another doctor perform CPR on Taylor-Green as 10 more gunshot victims arrived at the emergency room.

“I knew that the UMC (University of Arizona Medical Center) was the only trauma one capability. I knew that all of them were coming here. I learned a lot and I would like to state that my team did a superb job that day in the emergency room,“ Hiller added.

Michelle Ziemba, a registered nurse and director of Trauma and Emergency Services at the medical center, said she handled many of the media and families that came to the center. Ziemba said she remembered that there was not enough time to state the names of all of the victims other than Giffords, so everyone was named “John Doe.” Her toughest moment, she said, was dealing with the rumor of Giffords’ death.

“As soon as I heard the word, I rushed over to the trauma bay and asked the doctors and nurses if she was truly dead,” Ziemba said. “They told me no, but she was in critical condition.”

Riley’s main job was to deal strictly with the media and ensure that all victims in the medical center were safe. Within hours, she said, the center was able to release a statement, but had to make sure that all of the patient’s families were informed of their loved ones’ situations.

“Many of the rumors came from the citizens at the crime scene text messaging the news stations ‘Gabby’s dead.’ I knew I had to put a stop to this and keep all of the hospital’s patients still safe,” Riley said.

Friese was the trauma surgeon on call and performed surgery on many of the victims. That morning there were two full teams of surgeons, he said. Friese added that as he walked down to the trauma bay, things were “already in order” and that many of the rooms were already full and ready for the injured to arrive.

“As I spoke with Dr. Theodorou, I noticed we had chief resident surgeons, resident surgeons, first-year surgeons and private surgeons that made up 11 surgeons on each team,” he said. “Christina was my first patient, but unfortunately she was beyond any of our help. I felt compelled to keep trying.”

After calling Taylor-Green’s time of death, Friese attended to Giffords. He said Giffords was trying to speak to the best of her ability, surprising Friese and other doctors. Friese along with Ziemba spoke to Giffords’ parents and Taylor-Green’s mother.

“I approached Gabby’s mother and told her she (Giffords) may not live,” Friese said. “She (Giffords’ mother) grabbed my arm and told me to tell her that she loves her. I then directed my attention to Christina’s mother and told her that her little daughter was not going to make it, and that I tried the hardest I could. She hugged me and said, ‘It’s OK.’”

All the speakers said the teams could not have done a better job.

“Everyone on this board can say that they prep for stuff like this every day,” Theodorou said. “While we still learned things from this event, we were able to run our hospital bay with smoothness.”

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