- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Doctors and nurses working the night a gunman shot more than 100 people, killing 49 of them, inside an Orlando nightclub described Tuesday the chaotic scene that played out after truckloads of injured patients seeking medical aid were brought into the trauma center.

With some of the 44 gunshot victims transported to the Orlando Regional Medical Center suffering from multiple, serious injuries, several trauma surgeons at times had to operate on a single patient’s different body parts, doctors said.

“Disasters are something we plan for. You cannot prepare adequately for an incident such as this,” said Dr. Michael Cheatham, a trauma surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center. “This was the largest disaster that we probably could have imagined.”

The shooting killed 49 people and injured another 53 people when gunman Omar Mateen stormed Pulse nightclub early Sunday. Of the 44 victims brought to the ORMC, 27 people are still hospitalized and six patients remain in the intensive care unit in critical condition as of Tuesday. Nine of the gunshot victims brought to the center died within minutes of arrival, hospital officials said.

Dr. William Havron, another trauma surgeon working Sunday as the victims poured in, described the night as a “surreal experience.”

“We literally walked from that operating room to another operating room again and again,” Dr. Havron said.

One surviving patient who was brought to the hospital, Angel Colon, also spoke about his experiences the night of the shooting.

Mr. Colon was shot three times in the leg immediately after Mateen stormed through the entrance of the gay nightclub just after 2 a.m. Sunday.

“This person had to be heartless. Ruthless,” Mr. Colon said, noting that he was shot from behind and did not see the gunman in action.

Reports have emerged that Mateen, who was killed in a gun battle with police, had previously visited the club. Mr. Colon said he did not recall seeing Mateen there before.

But the notion that Mateen had previously cased the club was frightening to the survivor.

“As of now, I don’t want to step foot back in those places,” he said of the nightclub.

To doctors, surgeons and nurses who helped save his life, Mr. Colon was thankful.

“I love you guys,” he said.

But still trying to process how the carnage was carried out, Mr. Colon said he questioned how someone capable of carrying out such a horrendous act could be allowed to purchase firearms.

“I really do think to have a gun, you really should have a reason,” Mr. Colon said, acknowledging the right to self-defense. “If it’s that easy to bring two huge guns into a place like that, there is something wrong.”

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