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‘It was very surreal’ — How Army doctors answered the call to treat El Paso shooting victims

Editor’s Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

U.S. Army doctors who treated victims of the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, said the emergency room scene was like a war zone, except for one difference: None of the wounded had been protected by body armor.

Critically wounded patients began arriving at local hospitals in El Paso less than a half hour after a lone gunman, armed with a rifle, entered a nearby Walmart and began shooting.

Victims suffered from high-velocity gunshot wounds that tore open flesh, shattered bone and destroyed tissue in their arms, legs, abdomens and chests, Army Lt. Col. Justin Orr, chairman of orthopedic surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, told Military.com recently.

Orr was the orthopedic trauma surgeon on call at Del Sol Medical Center the day of the Aug. 3 shooting as part of an established partnership the Army medical community in El Paso holds with local hospitals.

Staff at Del Sol were notified of the mid-morning shooting soon after it began.


“About 20 minutes later is when the mass casualty event tipped off in the emergency room,” Orr said. “As with any mass casualty situation, and I have been involved with a couple others overseas, it is very well-controlled chaos. It’s everybody following a well-rehearsed plan of triaging patients and sending the most urgent cases to the operating room.”

Orr had seen these types of traumatic wounds during deployments to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2016, but service members “for the most part are protected by body armor and so vital organs of the thoracic and abdominal regions tend to be protected.”

“This is the first time that I have been involved in a mass casualty event …read more

Read more here:: Task & Purpose

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