Trauma Nurses Process Emotions One Week After Dallas Police Shooting

Physicians and nurses at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas treated several of the police officers and civilians shot during the ambush on law enforcement last Thursday night in downtown Dallas.

At the front lines of the trauma department were nurses Erick Jenkins, Brad Blacketer, Brittany Fairchild, Greg Terry and Kaley Almanza.

"I've worked in the E.R. of Baylor for three years, but I've been a nurse for almost six. I have never experienced anything like this in all my six years of nursing," Fairchild said.

The five started their 12-hour shift at 7 p.m., about two hours before injured officers started arriving.

"On the TV, I saw everything unfolding. The next thing you know, I see respiratory therapists running past so I knew something had happened," Almanza said.

Their training kicked in, but so did unexpected emotions as lives were saved while others were lost.

"Outraged. I couldn't believe someone was capable of actively targeting police officers intentionally," Jenkins said.

"I didn't expect to be as sad days later as I was. As much horror as I've seen in my career, I can distance myself from that relatively easily. This, I could not do that with this," Terry said.

"Emotionally, you have to go home and cope with it somehow," said Blacketer, who said he coped through spending time with his children.

For Jenkins, the biggest issue in the days after shooting was the constant questions from others.

"The thing for me, when I came back was I didn't want to keep answering the questions about how it was. People kept asking. Patients would ask," Jenkins said.

For Fairchild, the days since the shooting have been difficult.

"I still think about it every day. I see it all over social media. It's just something that you can't really avoid. It's all over the news. It's all anybody seems to be talking about – for good reason – but it does make it very, very hard to move on," she said.

Everyone, however, returned to work the next day, ready to serve.

That includes Almanza, who finished her trauma department orientation four days before the shooting and is married to an Ellis County sheriff's deputy.

"I try to not put myself in that position, to think, 'What if that was my husband, right then, right now? I need save this person's life first.' I did have those thoughts in the aftermath," she said.

"It was hard not to break down multiple times. Definitely one of the hardest things – hardest shifts – I've ever had to go through," Almanza added.

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