NEW: Columbine victims’ doctor fears for Parkland medical staffs


When he saw the news footage last night of teenagers fleeing a school shooting with their hands up, Dr. Chris Colwell cried.

“It took me right back to Columbine nearly 20 years ago,” said Colwell, an emergency physician who sorted through the dead and the living at the Colorado high school where 13 died in 1999.

Thirteen years later, he treated victims of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, in which 12 people were killed.

Parkland shooter briefly lived at a home near Lantana

Front-line responders can expect to experience post-traumatic stress from the horrors they witnessed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday afternoon for months, maybe the rest of their lives, Colwell said.

“Of the 12 people I worked with that day at Columbine, eight went on to divorce and alcoholism,” Colwell said. “I can’t tell you how convinced I am that (the mass shooting) played a role. As medical professionals, we do not do a good enough job of taking care of ourselves after something like this happens.”

Colwell, who is now chief of emergency medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and has lectured on the emotional aftermath of mass-casualty events, said he reached out to a few friends who worked on victims of the Parkland school shooting Wednesday night, reminding them to take care of themselves after they care for their patients.

Florida gunman’s alleged YouTube post: ‘Im going to be a professional school shooter’

He said it’s common to have recurring visions of the shooting scene and to wrestle with thoughts of how such evil can exist while trying to block both with alcohol and drugs.

He said early intervention in the form of talking about the murders with co-workers or therapists helps.

“It doesn’t go away,” Colwell said, “but you can come to peace with it.”




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