(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Robert Wilson and Lea Adcock are just two of many who felt the call into the medical field to help others. Both have been working for several years in the Emergency Room at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs on the night shift.
“I really always was attracted to the variety in the medical field. Lots of different avenues that you can take the shift work, working with people,” Penrose Hospital Emergency Department Nursing Supervisor, Robert Wilson, said. “Then it was a blend between science and kind of getting to take care of people.”
Over the years, they have treated patients with all different injuries and have the power to help heal in the midst of pain.
“I think what motivates me each day is you come in to work and you never know like who you’re going to help or what you’re going to do,” Penrose Hospital Emergency Department Clinical Coordinator, Lea Adcock said. “Certainly, working in the E.R. setting, it’s different every day and it’s exciting and you go into work knowing that you might possibly make a difference in people’s lives.”
The two shared the special connection created between staff by working late hours of the night into the early morning.
“So, it’s fairly busy and we try to get a lot of stuff done, accomplished by 11,” Wilson said. “The in-patients are trying to sleep. We’re trying to get people situated, taking them to task, and we have an influx of patients coming into the ED all night that we have to place into the hospital.”
Both recalled the complete change of the night, when the call came in on Nov. 19, 2022 that wounded patients from Club Q would soon be arriving in need of care.
“I remember rushing to the emergency department and trying to get things set up and just thinking like, I can’t believe this is happening,” said Wilson.
Wilson knew they needed more staff members to help treat victims, so he acted quickly and reached out to other departments.
“We were able to bring patients or bring nurses from the intensive care unit and the cardiac unit and from the stepdown unit and let everybody know what had happened in the hospital,” Wilson said. “And have them prepared to take patients from the emergency department, so we could get it as clear as possible and make room for the impending patients we were getting.”
While medical training is in place for tragedies like this, Adcock reflected on what it is like in real time: “You kind of try to prepare as best you can, but it’s really easy to get into the mindset that you’re never going to experience something like this until the day that it happens.”
Inside of the ER, the medical team prepared for patients to arrive, while first responders worked on escorting injured patients to hospitals around the city.
“You just remember seeing these people, carrying their friends through the ambulance bay,” Adcock said. “And police helping, you know, people who are obviously wounded through the ambulance.”
When looking at these patients, Adcock recalls the vivid unspoken bond they shared.
“Some of them knew each other,” Adcock said. “Some of them didn’t know each other. But they were kind of like banded together. They were carrying each other and it’s something that you wouldn’t forget.”
Once patients arrived, the medical team jumped in to be able to identify the patients in need of immediate emergency care.
“I don’t think you even can comprehend it at the time,” Adcock said. “You rush out to meet these patients and you don’t know what you’re about to encounter, what you’re about to see and you just in that moment, at that point in time, you’re just okay, like this person is in immediate danger.”
For ten years, Wilson has worked at Penrose Hospital and described the initial thoughts that first went through his head.
“Thinking about the patients that were going to be impacted, hoping that we were going to have enough staff, hoping that we were going to be able to do right by everybody and really that we were going to all come together and take care of patients,” said Wilson. “So, I just really think no matter how much you train, no matter how much you practice, no matter how many drills you do, it’s still just really shocking sometimes.”
While they see numerous patients every day, Adcock describes the Club Q survivors as memorable.
“I’ll say it again, they were the kindest people that have probably ever walked through our doors,” Adcock said. “So being able to care for them and be a part of such a traumatic experience with them, like it truly was something that you never forget.”