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Orlando Hospital Gives Update On The Injured; Survivors Share Details Of Attack


And we are here this morning in Orlando across the street from the Orlando Regional Medical Center where the people injured - many of the people injured in the nightclub on Sunday morning were rushed to the hospital. We're getting some new numbers this morning. There's a press conference happening right now with some of the surgical team. There are six people still in critical condition, fighting for their lives. Many other patients have improved. Many have been released. There are 27 people total still in the hospital.

Now, one piece of good news we heard from doctors - there were nine people being rushed to the hospital Sunday morning who died. But since then, people being treated, they have not lost anyone. But what was described this morning at this news conference, it's absolutely stunning. We're getting a picture of the chaos as the hospital was dealing with all of these patients being rushed from this nightclub.

Chadwick Smith is a trauma surgeon. He said the patients just started coming in the wee hours of Sunday morning. He was calling backup, doing all he could. Here's what he had to say.


CHADWICK SMITH: You know, you can imagine calling someone at 2:30, 3 o'clock in the morning when you get a phone call from work and, you know, some people don't have their phones on. Some people have them, you know, in the kitchen.

But I think almost every person that I called answered the phone. I said, this is not a drill. This is not a joke. We have 20 to - plus gunshot wounds coming in. I need you here as fast as I can. And every time the answer that I got was I'll be right there.

GREENE: That's Dr. Chadwick Smith, one of the trauma surgeons who were treating the victims in the nightclub attack here. He looked out at a news conference - a packed news conference - and said that that night the operating rooms and the emergency room was about as crowded as this packed news conference was this morning.

I'm with my colleague, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang, who's also been listening in to this news conference that's happening across the street right now. And, Hansi, I mean, this - it's hard to imagine the chaos in this hospital that night.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Yeah, the surgeons have described it almost like a war zone and how they were preparing the emergency rooms, the trauma centers, to accept all these patients. And we were able to hear from one survivor - just really gripping, gripping testimony from what he saw inside the club. He was shot three times in the leg and fell down and that he had gotten and saw everyone running around him and was - actually encountered the shooter after he had fallen down. He saw that the shooter had come back after making - firing some shots and actually started firing at dead bodies and make sure they were dead. Let's listen to what the survivor, Angel Colon - here's what he said.


ANGEL COLON: I was able to peek over. And I can just see him shooting at everyone. And I can hear the shotguns closer. And I look over, and he shoots the girl next to me. And I'm just there laying down. I'm thinking I'm next. I'm dead.

WANG: And he actually - and Angel said that he was - and the shooter actually shot towards his head again. But it actually hit his hand and then shot again and hit the side of his hip. And so he just was prepared to stay down and lay low and try to save his life.

GREENE: OK, some of the voices we're hearing this morning from across the street at Orlando Regional Medical Center. For the first time, we're hearing from some of the surviving victims and also some of the trauma surgeons who were treating the people who were being rushed to that hospital after the shooting at that nightclub here in Orlando in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.