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ER Chief Reflects On Response To Western Psych Shooting

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Chief of the ER at UPMC Presbyterian, Dr. Charissa Pacella, says she is proud of being part of the team that cared for victims of the Western Psych shooting.

She says in most mass shootings, patients are sent to several different trauma centers, but because UPMC Presbyterian is right across the street from Western Psych, all the victims were brought there.

“All I had was the initial report that there had been a shooting at Western Psych,” said Dr. Pacella, and at that point, she didn’t know what to expect.

Nonetheless, a trauma team at the hospital was preparing, and what’s called a rapid response team actually left the building when it was safe to go the scene and began assessing patients.

“I think when they actually started coming in, that’s when it became a little more real that something really serious was going on,” said Dr. Pacella.

Out of seven patients in all, five were trauma cases, including the receptionist who had been shot four times.

Pacella says her team was prepared and if need be, they could have even handled more patients.

“It was a day that I’m glad that I do what I do,” said Dr. Pacella. “It was also a day where it was just heart wrenching to think about the families that I knew would be suffering.”

Police say 30-year-old John Shick walked into Western Psych and opened fire last Thursday. A therapist was killed and Shick died when University of Pittsburgh police officers fired back.

“I think the thing that had the most impact on me was actually spending a good amount of time at the bedside of one of the victims,” said Dr. Pacella. “Just in conversation. The more emotional aspects of the trauma.”

She says that made her realize the number of people without physical injuries who will have emotional wounds from the shooting.

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