A Texas trauma surgeon choked up as she spoke about how she and her team are coping with treating victims of Tuesday’s mass shooting at an Uvalde elementary school.
“I think our current focus is taking care of the patients that we did receive, and taking care of them in a way that we can help them, first of all, get out of the hospital, but also to be able to live their life to the fullest,” Dr. Lillian Liao, the director of pediatric trauma at University Hospital in San Antonio, told CBS News in an interview.
“It was a challenge to talk to the families. They were obviously in shock. But sometimes I think in these situations we need to stay positive,” she said, choking up.
“And the fact that we have the opportunity to talk to these families, we’re grateful for that. That we had the opportunity to say your child made it to the hospital alive.”
Multiple people remain hospitalized after a gunman opened fire on Robb Elementary School with an assault rifle, killing 19 children and two teachers.
Uvalde Memorial Hospital received 17 injured children, two of them dead on arrival, a hospital executive told reporters. Several patients were transported to University Hospital, which is roughly 80 miles from Uvalde.
Two 10-year-olds, one 9-year-old and an adult are being treated there, according to CBS. The adult and one of the 10-year-old girls are in serious condition.
Dir. of pediatric trauma at a Texas hospital discusses caring for victims of the Uvalde shooting:
"The fact that we have the opportunity to talk to these families, we are grateful...we had the opportunity to say your child made it to the hospital alive," Dr. Lillian Liao says. pic.twitter.com/yXwiaSl7B4
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 25, 2022
Liao said the hospital was prepared for a mass casualty event after responding to the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017, which left 26 people dead.
“Sadly, we were prepared for and thought we would get more patients than we did,” she said.
She said high-velocity firearm injuries like the ones victims suffered Tuesday were particularly destructive on the body, particularly to small children.
“Probably the reason why most of the chidlren didn’t make it to the hospital alive,” she said.
“This is the reason why every part of the country needs a strong trauma system — is that coordination of care and getting patients to the right facility in the shortest amount of time possible.”
The hospital is prepared to save lives “if and when we have to deal with these mass casualty situations again,” she said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.