COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Dr. Natalie Ayres was working the overnight shift at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19. It was a skeleton crew -- she and a physician assistant were the only providers working in the emergency department around midnight.
She remembers the halls were very quiet. They had only a few patients until the call came into the ER.
"Said, 'Hey, there’s been a mass shooting. How many patients can you take?," Ayres said. "Initially we were hearing about eight [patients] or so, but then that number went up quickly to about 20."
Ayres said she didn't know what to expect, so they prepared for the worst. She and a team called in as much backup as possible.
Penrose Hospital, about five miles from Club Q, took in seven patients.
"It was chaotic, as one can expect getting that many patients at once, but we had so many bodies in that emergency department caring for patients in every way they could," Ayres said. "It is probably one of the most lasting memories I have from it, just seeing how everyone came together."
Doctors were ready by the ambulance bay and waited for patients to start pulling in. The first patients to arrive came in a police officer's patrol car.
"We start heading towards the door, and there is this stream of walking wounded patients," she said. "He had four patients in his cruiser."
All four patients had been shot. They were awake and able to walk into the hospital. Three other patients came by ambulance.
"Our mentality is that is our job. That is what we do," Ayres said. "Don’t necessarily see ourselves as heroes or anything like that."
She was surprised by the response from family and friends of victims that night. Ayres expected them to show anger about what happened. Instead, they only showed gratitude for the work doctors did that night.
"The mood in the department probably would have been different had we gotten the shooter. We did not get the shooter at Penrose, and so I think the mood would have been different," she said.
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