On October 31, 2017, New York City suffered a devastating attack when a terrorist driving a rented truck swerved into a pedestrian bike path killing eight people and injuring many more. Within minutes, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, the only acute care hospital serving Lower Manhattan, received its first two patients and the hospital’s emergency medical response team jumped into action.
The team, several of whom were new to the hospital having rotated there for the first time just days before, mobilized all resources and tapped into their immense depth of skill to provide medical care for the gravely injured patients. Simultaneously, they tended to the emotional needs of patients, families and caregivers in the face of sudden and devastating tragedy.
“Out of the chaos and the raw emotion, it was amazing to witness how a team came together to provide compassionate care to the victims, their families and colleagues.”
One patient, a young mother of two who was visiting the U.S. for the first time, had just come from the World Trade Center memorial and was bicycling with her family when she was struck. Her mother and two sisters, who had been with her, were inconsolable and in shock from the traumatic event that had just taken place in front of their eyes. Ultimately, the young woman succumbed to her severe injuries. Members of the team sat with her family, spoke on the phone to other family members, and offered whatever comfort and condolences they could during this terrible tragedy.
The team cared for five trauma patients injured in the attack that day. This multidisciplinary assortment of professionals came together with precision to work as one. Patient care technicians ensured trauma bay supplies were constantly replenished, nurses calmly delivered care to injured patients, social workers were instrumental in helping people cope with what was transpiring, security managers made sure NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital security officers and NYPD officers were well-positioned for safety and helped with crowd control in a very full emergency room, and the trauma surgeon treated patients and coordinated the team’s activities.
The team joined efforts to provide not only medical care, but deep and loving compassion to people in great emotional pain. As one physician put it, “Out of the chaos and the raw emotion, it was amazing to witness how a team came together to provide compassionate care to the victims, their families and colleagues.”
Late in the evening, after the most acutely ill and injured patients were stabilized, trauma team leader Dr. Mayur Narayan called everyone together for a moment of silence and reflection. He made sure each person was ok and encouraged them with words of support, ensuring that the team’s spirits remained high for the next patient
that was rolling in.