November 06, 2009
Medical response to the Ft. Hood massacre
By John Dale Dunn, MD
Yesterday was beautiful warm blue, blue, make-you-happy, sky day in Texas. I was scheduled to work a shift at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, the busiest emergency department in the Army, at a base with always more than 50 thousand soldiers.
I have been a civilian contract emergency physician at Fort Hood since 2003. I teach Army Residents and students and mid level practitioners emergency medical practice, working alongside the main group of remarkable and able Army Physician Faculty, who do what I do, and are regularly deployed “down range” to support the Army mission in the field.
I was one of many physicians from the central Texas area who filled in during the hot war in Iraq, and I stayed on. I can’t think of a better job than caring for and thanking thousands of soldiers and their families and teaching some of the finest specimens of American youth extant — people who haven’t forgotten the virtues and the concepts of duty, honor and country and make their parents and families proud. Somedays I am overcome by the good I see in these students and physicians in training. I am one lucky old doc.
Tragedy struck Fort Hood today, sudden, violent. I write of the best damn mass casualty drill that could be imagined, made so by extraordinary efforts in the face of a mountain of awful human carnage. Dozens of ambulances from everywhere, helicopters in the sky, soldiers and Army medics and paramedics working the scene with efficiency and competence and cooperation among area hospitals that allowed remarkable and effective evacuation, triage, use of resources and superlative resuscitation. I couldn’t help but note and admire their performance — and be happy they are my colleagues and friends in many cases.