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Desert Springs Hospital was one of the closest medical facilities to the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival after the deadly shooting on the Strip. But, even the best training couldn’t have fully prepared hospital staff for Sunday night’s massacre.
The hospital’s chief of staff says they always prepare for a disaster, but it wasn’t supposed to be like it was Sunday night.
Instead of patients being transported by ambulance, they were showing up in truckloads with injuries.
“When I came out here, there were no ambulances, there was nothing,” said Dr. Donald Reisch, chief of staff.”
Dr. Reisch described an eerie silence by the ambulance bay at Desert Springs Hospital Sunday night, but the chief of staff soon learned why he was called into work.
‘Then I make the corner here, and suddenly this area is just noise, and every bed is filled,” Dr. Reisch said. “The hallway is filled.”
It was filled with patients like Harry Romero who took a bullet for his wife, Claudia. When Romero was shot, the bullet went through one leg and hit the other.
“He told me to get down so as soon the shots keep getting closer and closer to us, he like tackled me,” said Claudia Romero,” wife.
The gunman opened fire down onto the country music festival from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
“People were running everywhere like what do you do,” Claudia asked. “Like do you duck? What do you do because there are so many people dying? So I couldn’t get him up, so I was dragging him by his shirt, to get him to safety because we were in the middle by the stage. I saw his bone coming out; I said I couldn’t carry you, there’s no way. So I started yelling for help, help, somebody help me please.”
And that’s when Harry was moved. It was all thanks to some good Samaritans who helped move Harry to a safer place.
Harry was driven to Desert Springs hospital by truck.
Dr. Lonnie Empey was the first physician to take care of the Romeros.
“That bond I don’t think will ever be broken,” Dr. Empey said.
Nearly 200 patients were taken to Desert Springs Hospital, but some of the patients did not survive.
As of Friday, a total of 58 victims had died in the mass shooting.
“His injuries are bad, but there were people dying in the hallways downstairs,” according to Claudia.
“You know…they say physicians never remembers a patient’s name. I promise I remember every patient’s name that I took care of that night,” said Dr. Empey. “I will never forget it, so I will always remember he and his wife.”
When asked about the staff and Desert Springs, the Romero’s didn’t have anything but kind words to say.”
“They’re beautiful people, human beings,” Claudia said.
According to Claudia, Harry is more than her husband of 17 years — he’s also her hero.
“I had to. We made it. We got lucky,” Romero said.
Friday was Harry Romero’s final day in the hospital.
The couple will head back home to California. They still plan to visit Las Vegas.