LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Images of carnage at a country music festival jolted Jacqueline Rodriguez as she checked her social media feeds on Sunday night, right after crawling into bed following a 12-hour shift as a nursing aide at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.
Rodriguez climbed back into her uniform, jumped into her gray Mazda 3 and raced back to the hospital at a speed that made the journey a lot shorter than its usual 15 minutes.
“There were people everywhere and a trail of blood from the ambulance bay all the way in,” Rodriguez, 31, said Friday. “There were people crying, screaming in every bay in the emergency room.”
Grueling hours turned into days as she and her colleagues scrambled to deal with the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, after Stephen Paddock, 64, broke the windows of his Mandalay Bay hotel room and rained bullets on the concert crowd.
Rodriguez ran from patient to patient, rushing chest tubes to doctors who needed to drain fluid from patients’ lungs and IV equipment for nurses to give patients fluid, medicines and pain relief.
She helped lift patients onto gurneys and move them to treatment areas.
Doctors yelled, “Make room! Make Room!,” as more patients arrived, and more.
Paddock killed 58 people that night, and wounded nearly 500 more before turning one of his guns on himself.
Sunrise Hospital treated 200 of the victims. Others received care at affiliated community hospitals and Las Vegas’ University Medical Center.
Rodriguez worked until 4 a.m., went home to shower and came back for another 12-hour shift at 7 a.m.
She can’t remember too many details - mostly the blood and the crowds and the adrenalin pumping through her body.
“It was, ‘Go! Go! Go!” she said. “Save lives! That was the only thing that mattered to us that night.”
It wasn’t until Wednesday, her first day off, that feelings started bubbling up.
“Wednesday I wake up and my house was completely silent and that’s when it really dawned on me,” Rodriguez said. She felt hopelessness, sadness, anger.
And she became more determined than ever to one day become a registered nurse.
“There’s no greater feeling than to know you are saving people’s lives on a daily basis,” she said. “It tells you there is still good in this world.”
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by David Gregorio