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How Las Vegas’ trauma center went into disaster mode and helped hundreds of shooting victims

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A pall still hangs over the glitz of Las Vegas tonight. Dozens remain critically injured, along with the 59 killed who died, after a gunman's assault on a country music concert Sunday night.

    Investigators say he planned every aspect, even hiding a camera outside his hotel room to keep watch.

    Cat Wise begins our coverage from Las Vegas.

  • CAT WISE:

    A day after the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, police and FBI investigators in Las Vegas worked the crime scene.

  • JOSEPH LOMBARDO, Sheriff, Clark County:

    This individual was premeditated, obviously premeditated. I pray that, in these situations, that a citizen, because we can't be at all places at all times — that a citizen sees something and says something, and we act on that.

  • CAT WISE:

    They're still trying to understand the gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a retired accountant turned gambler from Mesquite, Nevada.

    The question of why is paramount.

    JENNIFER ZELENESKI, Half Sister of Victim: I can understand if one person did something to somebody, but this person went out and killed so many people that he didn't know, for no reason.

  • CAT WISE:

    On Sunday night, Paddock poured fire into the crowd of 22,000 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. He had stationed himself 32 floors up in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, knocking out windows for sniper perches.

  • MURRELL SAILERS, Survivor:

    You want to stay still, because he's firing at moving objects. That's what he's doing. Anybody laying down, that doesn't mean anything to him. So, every time he stops, I get up and I move. Every time it starts, hunker down.

    You can just hear the rounds almost like creeping up on you. And it feels like they're just — it's like hunting you down.

  • CAT WISE:

    This mobile phone video from last year shows a tour of the exact room that Paddock used. Police ultimately found him there, dead by his own hand.

    Overnight, vigils for his victims were held around the country. On the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus, a moment of silence.

    CHLOE GERONIMO, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: What happened is just like heartbreaking, and it's scary, because it could have been us. It could have been anybody.

  • CAT WISE:

    All told, more than 500 people were wounded, some hit by bullets, some by shrapnel. Others were injured jumping over fences or getting trampled. At University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, trauma surgeon Dr. Jay Coates says they arrived in droves.

    DR. JAY COATES, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada: Lung contusions, liver, spleen contusions, a number of other injuries. Vascular injuries. Broken bones. You name it, we saw it last night. It was like a war zone last night.

  • CAT WISE:

    Police say Paddock stockpiled at least 23 firearms in his hotel room, some with scopes. He also had a pair of so-called bump-stocks, used to modify weapons and make them fully automatic, and at the gunman's home, 19 more guns, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

    In Washington today, Democrats, including Congressman Mike Thompson of California, opened a new drive for what they call commonsense gun laws.

  • REP. MIKE THOMPSON, D-Calif.:

    It's also important to note that yesterday's mass murder marks the 272nd time that we have experienced a mass shooting this year. Things are absolutely out of control.

  • CAT WISE:

    On the Republican side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said discussions of gun violence should wait until the investigation in Las Vegas is over. House Speaker Paul Ryan focused on mental health issues.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: I think it's important that, as we see dust settle and we see what was behind some of these tragedies, that mental health reform is a critical ingredient to making sure that we can try and prevent some of these things from happening.

  • CAT WISE:

    President Trump weighed in on the shooter as he left the White House, on his way to Puerto Rico.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    He was a sick man, a demented man. Lot of problems, I guess. And we are looking into him very, very seriously. But we are dealing with a very, very sick individual. And we will be talking about gun laws as time goes by.

  • CAT WISE:

    The president will be in Las Vegas tomorrow and is expected to meet with first-responders and victims.

    Meanwhile, hospitals around the area continue to care for the wounded. Earlier today, I spoke with Dr. John Fildes, medical director of the UMC trauma unit.

    I began by asking him to describe the scene late Sunday night into early Monday morning.

    DR. JOHN FILDES, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada: While, as the shots were being fired, we were notified, and the hospital went on disaster drill.

    The first wave came in, and they were mostly delivered by EMS units. We got them all into beds. We started treating them. We started to get them into the operating rooms, to ICUs, and so forth. And then the second wave came, and that was largely in private vehicles.

  • CAT WISE:

    What kind of injuries were you seeing?

  • DR. JOHN FILDES:

    Mostly gunshot wounds. Then we saw a number of patients who were injured fleeing the scene. So we saw some pedestrians that were hit by cars. We saw some people who had fallen. We saw people who had been trampled.

  • CAT WISE:

    How do you view these things and kind of your sense of how many you were going to get?

  • DR. JOHN FILDES:

    Well, we anticipated a large number of patients. We didn't know how severely they would be injured. The science of disaster medicine tells us that the people that are going to die will largely die on the scene.

    Many people will be walking wounded and will flee the scene, and then there will be a smaller number of critical injuries. The night of the incident, I went through the room. And we had about 30 or 40 people on stretchers. I went around to every one of them and I talked to them and examined them and spoke to them.

    And the ones that were awake and alert were even holding pressure on their own wounds and they just telling me that it's OK for me to go take care of the sick ones.

  • CAT WISE:

    What did you make of that?

  • DR. JOHN FILDES:

    Oh, that's just tremendous resilience. And the people were really selfless. And the community responded.

  • CAT WISE:

    What does the road to recovery look like for the patients here, but especially those that are the most severely injured?

  • DR. JOHN FILDES:

    Those patients will have temporary disabilities. They will have to be attended to, and some of them will have permanent disabilities. And we try to channel those patients into rehabilitation programs where they can get physical therapy and occupational training and post-traumatic stress management.

    And those patients typically do quite well.

  • CAT WISE:

    We're talking a matter of certainly months, perhaps even years.

  • DR. JOHN FILDES:

    It's not uncommon that patients spend up to six months trying to recover, restore their strength and abilities to go back the work.

  • CAT WISE:

    How are you and your colleagues coping?

  • DR. JOHN FILDES:

    We're all really tired. But, as you walk around, you see this tremendous sense of pride that everybody has with what we have done. And we're just glad that we could be there.

    And people never want to go to a trauma center until they have to go to one, and we're just glad we could be here.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    That was Cat Wise reporting from Las Vegas.

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