On June 12, 2016, Orlando, along with the country, was forever changed.
Q: Where were you when you found out about the shootings at Pulse?
Eric Alberts, Corporate Manager, Emergency Preparedness at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) was at home sleeping when he heard a text alert on his phone. He got up to get it and saw that it was from his boss at the time simply asking if he was going into work. Eric immediately wondered why she would be asking that on a Sunday morning so he checked his emails and saw that he had several with subject lines with words like “active shooter” and “mass intake.” Eric didn’t even take the time to read them, knowing that he needed to get in as soon as possible - entering ORMC through the ER department around 4 a.m., working in the command center and putting in a 12-hour shift.
Q: What effect did working that day have on you and the others in the trauma center?
Eric knew that the incident had a community-wide impact and that he and the others working in the Trauma Center had to immediately go into fight mode. They had to put all the training learned during mass intake drills into action and do whatever they could to help the victims and their families. “You don’t have time to stop and think about what is going on, you just have to react,” said Eric. “The hardest part is going home, coming back to Earth and going back to family and friends. You don’t want to scare them with the details of what you just went through, but at the same time you start to finally realize what you just went through.”
Q: What was the day after like for you?
Eric quickly understood, after having some time to take in the reality of the situation, that it was very real and personally impacted many people in the community as well as impacting the community as a whole. He soon appreciated how personal the impact was when a couple at his church announced they were looking for their grandson who was attending Salsa lessons at the club with his girlfriend that night. Eric immediately called the church asking how he could help, but knew there was a possibility for the worst. At that point, all Eric and the family could do was have hope and pray, but they would later find out that the grandson was not one of the survivors.
Q: How does an incident like this motivate you for the future?
“I am able to come to work everyday because I continue to have hope in knowing what ORMC did, and can do, for our community,” said Eric. “Despite what happened and what we all went through, we still need to be able to provide the same level of care for the next incident. We cannot stop doing what we do. Seeing a continual rush of patients and their families at ORMC shows that we are still here and we continue to stay alive and vibrant for the community.”