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On this Patient Power program about trauma and injury prevention, Layla Bush, shares her story of surviving a mass shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle in 2006. You will hear about the drama that then moved to the Harborview Medical Trauma Center. Harborview Medical Center’s Surgeon-in-Chief, Dr. Ron Maier and also Layla’s doctor, joins the program to tell us about what has to happen in the case of a serious trauma or injury and what we can do to keep ourselves healthy and safe.

Dr. Maier helps listeners understand what the trauma hospital and trauma system brings that patients cannot find at a small community hospital. This involves an entire plan and process that is able to take an injured patient, immediately recognize the severity of injuries and have the patient in the operating room, asleep and being operated on and having the injuries corrected within literally minutes. Of particular interest is Dr. Maier’s discussion about the latest research focused on how physicians can modify the body’s response so that a patient doesn’t auto-destruct after a catastrophic injury that evolution did not mean for them to survive.

Layla is an example of this type of person, and she shares her long road to recovery after the initial trauma. Both Dr. Maier and Layla speak about the importance of family, not only for emotional support at the hospital when the injury first occurs but for long-term rehabilitation.

Many traumas and injuries are preventable. What is defined as an accident? To what extent is society willing to take and help enforce preventative measures? Simple things like wearing helmets and taking guns out of the home can play a tremendous role in prevention. Also, learn the percentage of patients severely injured in a circumstance where significant amounts of alcohol were involved. Overall, this is an extremely thought provoking and informative Patient Power program about what is involved from a medical standpoint when a trauma occurs and the steps we can take as a society to minimize these occurrences.

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Produced in association with Harborview Medical Center


Gina Tuttle:

Good morning and welcome to Patient Power. I’m Gina Tuttle in for Andrew Schorr.

Imagine you’re at work; an armed man walks in starts shooting. You’re hit, and while you play dead you can see the man is stalking others. In one way you are lucky, world-class care is just minutes away. You survive but for months a bullet stays lodges next to your spine. In just a moment Layla Bush tells us what it was like inside the shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. You will hear about the drama that then moved to the Harborview Trauma Center, and Layla’s doctor, Harborview Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Ron Maier will tell us what we can do to keep ourselves and Harborview itself healthy and safe.

In for Andrew Schorr this week, I’m Gina Tuttle on a very rainy Sunday morning. A good time to sit back, listen to the radio and an amazing story. You probably remember from the news, you know we see the dramas on TV and a lot of wonder how we would react in a crisis as the target of a crime or as a health professional trying to save a life. So over this next hour we are going to hear from a survivor of a mass shooting, and we’ll find out what it is really like at a big city trauma center. While crime and accidents do take their toll, we look at what you can do to protect people you care about from the most common traumas, the life-changing crisis that could have been avoided. I’m Gina Tuttle in for Andrew Schorr.

Gina Tuttle:

Last July when Naveed Afzal Haq walked into The Jewish Federation Building in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, and he shot six women. One of them died at the scene. One who survived is Layla Bush, and Layla we want to hear the whole story in a couple of minutes, but first we want to know how you are today.


I’m doing great. I’m recovering from a spine surgery. They removed the bullet from my spine successfully, and I am up and at ‘em and feeling real great.

Gina Tuttle:

That was just two weeks ago that they finally removed that, and we are going to talk about why they waited so long. It’s pretty amazing that you are here with us today. We are going to talk with one of the people responsible for that, Dr. Ron Maier. You are Chief of Surgery at Harborview, and you are also holder of the Jane and Donald D. Trunkey Endowed Chair in Trauma Surgery, which is an immense honor. That’s one of only two in the nation or something?

Dr. Maier:

That’s correct.

Gina Tuttle:

Dr. Maier, what happens when Harborview gets word that five or maybe six shooting victims may be on the way?

Dr. Maier:

The response is a very planned response in that we are frequently challenged with multiple car crashes or other scenes where there could be multiple injuries. When we are notified by the paramedics or the police that there will be multiple injuries, we activate our phone system, our paging system, and we always have a number of surgeons, surgical specialists, nurses and OR staff, technicians, and the entire gamut of people necessary to respond.

Gina Tuttle:

So they may not always be there at the time, but they start heading for the hospital?

Dr. Maier:

Correct. Once activated, everyone moves to their designated spot whether it be the operating room or the emergency department.

Gina Tuttle:

And this is the trauma center not just for Seattle or Western Washington.

Dr. Maier:

Correct. This is “the” trauma center, although there is an extensive network of communication between all institutions within Seattle and within Western Washington to be able to respond to truly mass disasters such as an earthquake, so the patients can be triaged to the various hospitals throughout the region if necessary.

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