Surgeon, involved in helping Orlando nightclub shooting victims, has Tri-Cities ties

Dr. Joseph Ibrahim

ORLANDO, FL (WJHL/CBS) – One of the doctors, who treated the wounded after the shooting spree in an Orlando nightclub, has ties to the Tri-Cities.

The shooting left 49 people dead and dozens of others were wounded when Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub, early Sunday. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

Dr. Josheph Ibrahim, one of the surgeons helping the wounded during the traumatic event, received his bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in 1998. He graduated from Quillen College of Medicine at ETSU in 2003. According to school officials, he did his residency at ETSU from 2008-09.

In addition, officials at Wellmont confirm “Dr. Ibrahim was a trauma surgeon at Holston Valley Medical Center’s Level I trauma center from July 2009 until 2011 when he was also an assistant professor with the department of surgery at ETSU.”

Dr. Ibrahim said the hospital looked like a war scene with “patients in every corner.” Some patients had wounds both large and small – possibly indicating the gunman used both his assault rifle and a handgun.

“We saw the full gamut of wounds from wounds to the extremities, wounds to the chest, wounds to the abdomen and pelvis area as if they were shot from below which is what has been described to me by some of the EMS people. Varied in the size of the wounds from small caliber wounds to a very large caliber wound,” said Dr. Ibrahim. “There was a variety of things. you could tell we had both small caliber and large caliber…and you could tell proximity based on the amount of injury. We had some that had massive soft tissue loss that we assume, after talking with the detectives, they were more in close proximity as opposed to some that were running away that maybe the bullet had less tissue.”

Surgeons Michael Cheatham, Chadwick Smith, William Havron, Marc Levy, Joseph Ibrahim and Matt Lube. (CBS News)
Surgeons Michael Cheatham, Chadwick Smith, William Havron, Marc Levy, Joseph Ibrahim and Matt Lube. (CBS News)

According to CBS News, three months ago the Orlando Regional Medical Center practiced an active shooter mass casualty drill.

On Monday, “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley spoke to six surgeons who saved lives. Michael Cheatham, Chadwick Smith, William Havron, Marc Levy, Joseph Ibrahim, and Matt Lube saw 44 gunshot patients at once.

The following is a transcript of the interview.

CHADWICK SMITH: They brought the first patient in, and then they brought another patient in, and then they brought another patient in — and they said there were possibly 20 more gunshot wound patients coming in. And at that point I called my backup. It was very chaotic. There were patients that were in pain, there were patients that were crying, there were staff that was very busy, but very task-oriented.

MICHAEL CHEATHAM: We had gunshot wounds to the chest, gunshots wounds to the abdomen, to the extremities — most fairly severe because of the high velocity projectiles.

SCOTT PELLEY: What do you mean by that?

CHEATHAM: Well, this was an assault rifle. And so this is a military weapon, so those bullets have a lot more energy to them, a lot more speed, and so they cause more tissue injury.

WILLIAM HAVRON: There’s an individual who required multiple operations in the same 24-hour time period because of active ongoing bleeding. Actually got operated on twice in the operating room, and once in the ICU.

PELLEY: But you saved him?

HAVRON: We did, yeah.

PELLEY: Are these gunshot wounds different than the kind of Saturday night gunshot wounds you usually see?

CHEATHAM: Well, certainly they are different than what we used to call civilian gunshot wounds, which are typically slower bullets, smaller bullets. But increasingly we’re seeing gunshot wounds from high velocity military-type weapons almost on a daily basis. So this type of injury is something we see everyday, it is just not 44 patients.

PELLEY: Were the patients saying anything?

CHADWICK SMITH: Some of them were crying, some of them were confused. And the more critical patients obviously weren’t saying anything. Many people were asking where their friends and loved ones were.

PELLEY: Of the surgeries that you performed, does any patient stick in your mind?

HAVRON: I think they all stick in your mind. I mean, after something this horrific, going from operating room to operating room, from patient to patient, I don’t think any of us will forget this. This is not something that goes away.

CHEATHAM: We had hundreds of family members in the lobby of the hospital, all clamoring to know how their loved one was. And I think the thing that struck many of us is just the devastation to these families, in not knowing for hours and hours because so many of the victims were still inside the club.
SMITH: I was trying to put myself in their position. Not knowing if their loved one was in the hospital, or if their loved one was still at the nightclub. I just want to say I am proud that we were there to be there for them. It’s very humbling.

CBS News contributed to this report.

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