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FIRST RESPONDERS AT TRAGEDY IN ORLANDO

Honourable senators, I rise today to salute Orlando's first responders and all the staff at the Orlando Regional Medical Center whose response in the aftermath of the shootings in that city was nothing less than spectacular. It's difficult to visualize the scale of this tragedy. Forty-four victims arrived in the emergency department in the space of less than two hours, many in critical condition. By Monday afternoon, only 29 victims remained in hospital; five of them are still in serious condition.

Through their skilful hard work, the experienced team of doctors and nurses were able to save all but nine who had arrived with inoperable injuries. Many, many more would have died had it not been for the coordination of Orlando's first responders and the incredible efforts of their emergency departments, trauma teams and surgical staff.

The efforts of the emergency responders and medical staff cannot be understated. A tragedy of this scale requires hundreds of people — many coming directly from a phone call to their beds — to work together as a team, as one body, with every choice meaning the difference between life and death.

Hundreds of tasks were performed with no room for error, from doctors and nurses triaging injuries and providing immediate intervention and lifesaving surgeries, down to all of the staff, such as the cleaning staff who had to move and free cubicles in seconds. I have to mention the cafeteria and the porters — all the services we take for granted. Blood bank workers went into overdrive with everyone to make sure there were enough units of blood to keep the operating theatres in action.

Staff arrived from all over the city. Many had never worked together before. It's impossible for many to imagine the type of coordination necessary to ensure this smooth-flowing operation.

Speaking from my own career as an emergency room nurse, I can say that terrible tragedies like this stay with you forever. Dealing with trauma opens a wound inside you that never fully heals and places an invisible burden on the first responders and medical staff who work with these victims.

Responding effectively to trauma is the result of experience, training and skill. This is a crack trauma team. They should be a source of great pride to the citizens of Orlando.

Watching the coverage of the events on the news, I feel we never do enough to praise the action of all our medical heroes. From the Senate of Canada, I personally thank you all. You are an example to all of us as we speak.