CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Doctors are trained to save lives and put their emotions aside during emergencies, but mass trauma like the nation saw in Orlando this week can have a lasting impact.
It's not uncommon to hear about survivors and first responders experiencing symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder after devastating attacks such as the recent Florida night club shooting, and doctors aren't immune to bloodshed in the emergency room, either. At a press conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center on Tuesday, medical professionals described a war zone.
Gunshot victim after gunshot victim arrived in the ER at an Orlando hospital this past weekend, some barely clinging to life. Dr. Chadwick Smith was overcome with emotion as he described the chaos.
"To have all of these families waiting, talking to law enforcement, hospital staff, I tried to put myself in their position, not knowing if their loved one was in the hospital or the nightclub," Smith said, choking back tears.
Hospital workers across the country could only imagine what they were going through.
"It's every hospital's nightmare to have that number of patients in such a short period of time. It sounds like Orlando did a fantastic job," said Dr. Michael Anderson, Chief Medical Officer at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
Anderson is an expert in trauma and disaster planning. He says hospitals drill for situations like this, hoping they will never need to put those skills to use.
"What would you do if 20, 40, 60 patients showed up? How do you surge, operate as a healthcare system?" he said.
In an emergency, doctors and nurses spring into action, focusing on saving lives. Sometimes what they have witnessed does not sink in until hours later.
"Then when your shift is over some 12,18 hours later, there's a real human toll. We're all human. And that amount of carnage, those people critically injured, they're dying in front of you -- it's a pretty serious thing," Anderson said.
PTSD in doctors and nurses used to be thought of as a weakness, but Dr. Anderson says that has changed. University Hospitals has programs in place to help employees heal after they have responded to a traumatic incident, right away or months later if they need it.
"The old school thinking was just suck it up and move on. We take it much more seriously now," Anderson said.
Cleveland-area hospitals have all been working together in case there is any sort of emergency during the Republican National Convention. Plans are in place to get crowds of people the care they need by working as a team.
Download the Cleveland 19 News app.