Just one month after a mass shooting in Orlando, FL, emergency providers in Dallas were challenged to respond to another incident of gun violence. In this case, a sniper opened fire on a peaceful protest, hitting 14 people, including five police officers who died from their wounds. Emergency and trauma personnel from Parkland Memorial Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center report that their teams performed well, but having worked side-by-side with law enforcement many times, many providers and emergency staff are dealing with a heavy dose of emotional distress.

  • With no notice, victims of the shooting began arriving at Baylor University Medical Center in police cars. Emergency personnel noted that some of the vehicles themselves were riddled with bullet holes.
  • At Parkland Memorial Hospital, trauma staff immediately activated their incident command to a “code yellow, level three,” meaning there were multiple casualties. Not knowing how many shooters there were, the hospital also activated security, using its own 100-person police force to patrol the hospital’s perimeter.
  • Before the night was over, Parkland treated seven patients from the mass shooting — all of them police officers. But the 108-bed ED also had many other cases to manage that were not related to the mass shooting incident.
  • This incident illustrates the importance of including the chaplains of police and fire departments as well as the hospital when preparing and drilling for mass-casualty events, and putting resources in place to help emergency staff deal with distress.