Six months after the Pulse nightclub shooting killed 49 and injured scores, clinicians who treated the dying and the wounded describe the roles they played that night, and the rules they broke.
Mark Jones, president of Orlando Regional Medical Center, remembers arriving at the hospital the night of June 12, 2016 to find a police officer with an automatic weapon blocking a crowd at the entrance.
Surgeon Michael Cheatham, MD, remembers making the decision to stop CPR on a patient who was dying from gunshot wounds so he could save another patient more likely to survive.
Director of Services and Hospitality Holly Stewart recalls how she sent a clinician to the family waiting room because so many people were fainting.
They also needed a Spanish translator. It had been Latin night at the Pulse night club, the scene of the worst mass shooting in US history.
Hospital doctors, nurses, and administrators relived that awful night during the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Forum in Orlando last week. It was streamed live on the IHI website.
One clear message emerged: Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared.
Three months before the shooting, the hospital had been part of a community-wide mass casualty drill. "There is no question that the work that was done that day saved lives," said Jones.
He urged hospitals to "Drill often. Do the table-top exercises when you can. You need to do this, in our opinion, when it is not convenient. You always think the hospital is busy. Do it when you are busy. Do it at night. Practice on the weekend."
Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.