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Responding to tragedy

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It was a normal Thursday around Erlanger Hospital’s Trauma Unit but that quickly changed when reports of a mass shooting started coming in. 

Little did the ER staff know the weight of what was unfolding. 

“When we started hearing it was the recruiting office and the naval base, a lot of things changed,” Paramedic Adam Ryan said, “We rushed very quickly to get everyone out of the trauma bay that didn’t need to be in there.” 

First responders rushed in U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith and Chattanooga Police Officer Dennis Pedigo. Both had been shot at the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center where four other Marines were killed. Another Marine recruiter was being rushed in from another scene off Lee Highway. 

Smith was in the most serious condition, fighting for his life as hospital staff worked around the clock to try and get him stabilized. 

“I have friends in [the surgery unit] and just hearing about the efforts that were provided for him are just so much more than what is required,” Ryan added. 

After clinging to life for two days, Smith died from his injuries. 

For Registered Nurse Courtney Gross, it’s the toughest part of her job. 

“None of us in the ER like to see anyone pass away, especially one that we worked so hard on. But it does happen, so we just keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” she said. 

It’s been more than a week since that terrible day but the emotion is still etched on the faces of these professionals. 

“The biggest question a lot of us have is, did we do everything possible to save this person’s life?” she said. 

But it’s also part of what makes this team a family. 

Smith will be laid to rest Tuesday. He leaves behind a wife and three little girls. 

Chattanooga Police Officer Dennis Pedigo and the other recruiter that was also injured continue to recover. 

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