By Mason VanHouweling, UMC CEO
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, our community demonstrated an unparalleled level of unity in the face of an unspeakable tragedy.
Reflecting the strength of the community we serve, our team at UMC in Las Vegas came together in an incredible display of skill, preparation and resilience to save dozens of lives. While several patients arrived at UMC with no chance of survival, our team members saved everyone who had a possibility of living, and we saw many of these patients walk out our front doors and return home to their families.
As Nevada’s Only Level I Trauma Center, UMC has an incredible responsibility to provide the highest level of care, and our team delivered the best conceivable outcome in response to the most challenging situation we have ever faced. I have never been more proud of our team and the entire city of Las Vegas.
The care UMC provided would not have been possible without the courageous efforts of the first responders. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, local firefighters and our community’s amazing EMS professionals risked their lives to save others, and we will never forget their bravery.
Shortly after the gunfire erupted on October 1, our Emergency Department and Trauma teams prepared for the worst to ensure patients had the best possible chance of survival. Before the first patient came to our Emergency Department, additional team members from virtually every department began to arrive. We didn’t need to ask people twice; our team members arrived in droves, ready to assist in any way possible. Many came in without being called as they watched the horror unfold on the news.
While walking through the halls of UMC the week of the shooting, I saw the weary faces of heroes who came together to provide live-saving care and unwavering compassion in our community’s greatest time of need. Despite our shared exhaustion, we stopped to thank one another, offering words of gratitude and encouragement. Sometimes it was just a simple nod and a smile between colleagues, but the meaning remained the same: we were proud to stand together and offer the care our community deserves.
Two days after the shooting, as I saw UMC Chief of Trauma Dr. John Fildes walking through the hallways, I marveled as team members from across the hospital took the opportunity to thank him for directing our trauma team’s incredible efforts on the night of the shooting. One interaction between Dr. Fildes and a member of our Environmental Services team stands out in my mind. Rather than simply accepting the praise and moving on to grab a much-needed cup of coffee, Dr. Fildes stopped and thanked his co-worker from Environmental Services for working tirelessly to keep the Trauma Resuscitation area clean and constantly prepared for an influx of critically injured patients Sunday night and Monday morning. This interaction represents the true collaborative spirit of UMC and our hometown of Las Vegas.
This tragedy brought out the very best in our community. People visited UMC on a daily basis, delivering food, drinks and other essentials in an effort to provide some semblance of comfort to our patients and their families. Perhaps most importantly, community members lined up for hours upon hours to donate blood, doing their part to save lives.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the community for showing the world our unshakable strength and compassion.
While many people demonstrated incredible strength in response to this tragedy, no one displayed greater resilience than the victims of this tragic shooting. These men and women inspired our team and people across the world. We developed strong bonds with these patients as our team worked tirelessly to heal their wounds and help them return to their homes and families.
As UMC continues to focus on providing the highest level of care in Nevada, I remain confident that no bullet can damage the spirit of our patients, our hospital and our community.