In Honor of Las Vegas' Doctors

by Dr. Joseph Adashek  President, CCMS

by Dr. Joseph Adashek

President, CCMS

Over the past few years, I have been incredibly fortunate enough to receive a few honors and awards.  I received the annual Philanthropic Award from Planned Parenthood, awarded the “Healthcare Hero” Award from Las Vegas HEALS and the Person of the Year Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Then, I was fortunate enough to get to become President of the Clark County Medical Society, which was a very proud moment in my life.  To be honest, I am fairly vain and every time I receive a plaque or an award, I hang it on my office wall.  My medical partner makes fun of me asking me when I plan to hang my Junior Varsity wrestling letter on my wall.  So, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, the award that I accepted on behalf of the physicians of the Clark County Medical Society in January for the heroic actions of October 1st, is, by far, the most honored that I have ever been in my life.

Each year, the physicians of Washoe County choose a member of their community to receive their Community Service Award.  It is an incredible honor and it typically given to someone that gives decades of service for their community in Washoe County. Yet, this year, they chose the physicians of the Clark County Medical Society to receive their annual award. During the presentation, the President of the Washoe County Medical Society said this;

“It’s a Sunday night, October 1. If you’re like me, you’re probably gearing up for the long week ahead. The next thing you hear is there’s an active shooter firing at concert-goers in Las Vegas from all over the country. Over a 10-minute stretch, over 1100 rounds are fired at a crowd of over 22,000 people. By the end of the night, 58 people are dead, and 546 people are injured in the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in US history.

While obviously an incredibly devastating and tragic event, the response from the medical community in Clark County was truly incredible and inspiring. While Governor Sandoval signed an emergency order to allow out of state providers to assist in the aftermath, the physicians, hospitals, first responders, and medical staff were able to provide incredible care for all of these people. For those of you who are familiar with trauma care, this demonstrates the importance of preparation, planning, and coordination that is needed in our hospitals. And while our medical communities plan and train for these types of events, actually having to go through them can also be emotionally traumatic for the physicians. Every time I read stories about the physician response in Las Vegas, it was a reminder of how important we are for our communities and how, even during the darkest times, physicians have the ability to provide care and comfort.”

I was the lucky person that got to accept the award on behalf of the physicians of Clark County.

I have had many honors being President of the Clark County Medical Society, but, accepting this award on behalf of the physicians of Clark County is, by far, the greatest honor that I have had not just for the entire year, but, for my entire life.  The October 1st was the worst mass shooting ever in the United States. You all have worked in emergency rooms either as a medical student or as currently physicians, and typically when an emergency room receives a few patients in a short period of time with gunshot wounds, that emergency room is in controlled chaos.  Imagine it is a Sunday night, and, within a 10-minute span of time, there are more than 400 gunshot wound victims at once. Patients did not just come by ambulance -- they came by taxi, limousine, pickup trucks, police cars and just about every means of transportation available. These patients came in without warning for hours to different hospitals throughout the Valley. They arrived with gunshot wounds in their face, chest, neck abdomen, back and just about everywhere possible without the ER preparing for these wounds.

The physicians of Clark County mobilized, and in most cases did so without anyone calling them to come in to work. They just went to their nearest hospital to provide care to any patient that showed up to the emergency room. A number of hospitals received more than a hundred patients at once, and many of these patients were critically injured. The most amazing fact is this: 

Not one patient that arrived at an emergency room alive died. Not one.

This is, of course, amazing, and just reiterates the great care provided by the physicians, nurses and first responders in Las Vegas.  

The old joke in Las Vegas where to go for the best medical care used to be to go to the airport. Those days are not only over, but Las Vegas is now known for its incredible medical care.

I wish, more than anything, that the physicians of Clark County would have been there to see how they were honored for their excellent care that they gave the victims from October 1st. I have never been so proud to be a Las Vegas physician than that moment and I feel so blessed that I was able to represent the doctors of Clark County.  It is a moment that I will never forget.