AURORA -- In the early hours of Friday, Children's Hospital Colorado received word that an ambulance was on its way with a female patient
in full arrest.
She had three severe injuries to her lower chest and abdomen.
A team of at least six attending doctors and residents and five or six nurses were ready in an operating room to work on the woman.
The doctors tried to get her breathing. They worked for more than an hour to resuscitate and repair her injuries, but despite heroic efforts, the patient died, said Dr. Guy Upshaw, emergency room doctor at Children's Hospital.
"It's very sad, very sad," Upshaw said. "It was senseless."
But in all but two instances, patients that arrived at hospitals with wounds received at the Aurora theater shootings survived.
Similar scenes were played out across Aurora and Denver emergency rooms as staffs geared up, calling doctors, nurses and security staff. Even additional custodians were called in when the chaos began after 12:30 a.m.
The injured streamed into six metropolitan Denver emergency rooms in police patrol cars, ambulances and private cars.
"They were literally just showing up at emergency bay," said Dr. Comilla Sasson, emergency room physician at Anschutz University Hospital in Aurora.
Six went to Children's Hospital; 23 to University of Colorado Hospital; 15 to Medical Center of Aurora; four to Swedish Medical Center; two to Parker Adventist Hospital and six to Denver Health Medical Center. Officials at Emergency Medical Services Command were sending patients to hospitals with available rooms and staffs.
In each hospital, emergency room doctors set up triage areas.
Patients had gunshot injuries from a high powered rifle, buckshot injuries from a shotgun, shrapnel injuries from flying metal and debris or burns from tear gas.
"We were already having a very busy night," Sasson said.
She and another emergency room doctor triaged nearly two dozen patients. Patients had gun wounds to the head, chest, abdomen and arms and legs. Nine were in critical condition. Six hours after the shootings, one patient was still on the operating table, Sasson said.
"This has actually been one of the most horrific nights in my career," said Sasson, who previously worked in many gunshot cases in Atlanta and Aurora. "This silver lining is that the baby is OK."
She was referring to a 3-month-old injured baby. Sasson said the baby's parents took her home from the hospital along with two other patients.