UVALDE, Texas — The shooting at Robb Elementary School left 21 victims dead and many injured. KENS 5 staff spoke with the CEO of Uvalde Memorial Hospital, Tom Nordwick, about the survivors treated at his facility.
Following the shooting, 15 people were initially brought to Uvalde Memorial Hospital.
"Patients arrived by ambulance and then by a school bus. And the school bus actually came to the main entrance instead of to the emergency room area. So those people, those children, ended up being brought in through the main lobby of the hospital," Nordwick said. "Normally, when you're not an ambulatory patient and you're not sure if you're coming in or something like that, we'd probably have you come in the ambulance entrance. "
Only one of the students who arrived on the school bus walked in. All the other students were helped out on stretchers or wheelchairs.
"There there were some that were wounded in a very traumatic manner and some that were less so," Nordwick said.
According to Nordwick, 11 of the patients were children and four were adults. Four of the kids were transferred to hospitals in San Antonio and one adult was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center.
The remaining ten patients in Uvalde and were treated by Uvalde Memorial Hospital staff.
While Nordwick says the hospital staff is used to life-or-death situations, an influx of 15 patients is not something they are typically staffed for.
"But when we received the report of the active shooters, we had a general surgeon come in. We had our we had multiple parties come in and a orthopedic surgeon, internal medicine specialist from the community and several family practice docs from their practices came in."
After treating patients involved in such a horrific incident, Nordwick knows that his staff will need spaces for healing.
"They see this stuff, but it was still traumatic for them. Maybe not at the time, but it's kind of like almost post-traumatic in some aspects, I guess you'd call it. They were all touched by it one way or another. A lot of the folks in the emergency room and throughout our hospital as a whole either knew people there (or) had relatives there, you know. So the effects of that are pretty traumatic."
"We had individuals that lost family members, not immediate family members, but family members nonetheless. And I had an individual whose spouse was a law enforcement officer and was involved in the whole situation. So yeah, it's been traumatic for them and we're doing counseling," Nordwick added.
Morning and evening prayers are also being held in the chapel everyday for the next couple of weeks.
"There's been an outpouring of individuals that have offered their services to our emergency room staff and and some to our medicine staff and ICU and O.B. to relieve them so that they can deal with their family issues," Nordwick said.
He did say the hospital treated the husband of shooting victim Irma Garcia, Guadalupe "Joe" Garcia, who died closely after Irma from a heart attack, according to the family.
Nordwick was also unsure of the current condition of any of the children who were transferred to other hospitals. At the time they were transferred, two were in critical condition and two were in good condition.
To end his conversation with KENS 5, Nordwick spoke about how he sees the way forward.
"What I've seen even throughout my career is that these are more and more faced with handling mental illness in the emergency room. And there's not enough mental health (resources) available, especially in these rural communities," he said. "We need to, as a nation and a state, try to deal with those mental health issues for our school."
"You know, we need to invest more in the infrastructures of our schools, whether it be camera monitoring in the classrooms in different areas, whether it be safe rooms in schools, but provide the tools for a safe environment for our children, the staff that work there. And then we need to stand behind our our law enforcement as well. I know there's a lot of finger pointing going on today and it's not healthy. These police officers put themselves in the line of fire every day to protect us, and that's what they did here."
People in the San Antonio area looking to help rural hospitals like Uvalde can donate blood with South Texas Blood and Tissue, which reported on Thursday it had received more than 1,500 donations over the past two days.