• September 16, 2019

CATES:Odessa is Incredible - Odessa American: Opinions

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CATES:Odessa is Incredible

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Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 12:30 am

I am a true West Texas oil brat. My dad worked for Gulf then Chevron when they purchased Gulf in the mid 80s, and as a kid we moved pretty frequently following the oil business around the country.  We lived in Denver prior to moving here, and I distinctly remember a classmate saying, “You will hate it there” when I told him we were moving to West Texas. But, I didn’t hate it. I found my home. I am very much one of those people who wasn’t born here, but “got here as fast as I could”. I am so proud to be part of this community, but no more so than on Saturday, August 31, 2019, and the days that have followed.

Instead of writing my normal column about health care topics and a story or two, I thought I would just say “Thank You” to the amazing community we live in. First, and foremost, I want to say thank you to the many officers in law enforcement who quite literally ran into gunfire to stop the carnage the gunman caused. I don’t think I have ever seen more bravery than the video that was on multiple news stations of the Ector County Sheriff’s deputy running towards the gunman with bullets raining around him, ending the gunman’s destructive rampage by his actions. Police officers take so much abuse, yet they still run toward the danger. There are not enough Thank You’s to cover such bravery and such dedication to your community.

Second, I want to thank our EMS providers and those members of the community who despite the danger, went to aid the wounded. I have no doubt our tragedy would have been even greater if not for your quick response in aiding those people. Again, we have people, some professional first responders, others who were not, who put themselves in serious danger to help someone else. I am awed by you.

Third, I want to thank the physicians, nurses, other healthcare professionals, and hospital support staff who came to the hospitals when that madman was still out on the roads.  They put their community before their own personal safety. Several of them stopped to render aid to others along the way. One of the things that I am so proud of, it was not just one or two people, it was dozens. Current and former employees who called offering assistance, employees on duty who stayed while it was going on, not knowing what was going on in their own homes. Many even stayed beyond the time their shift should have ended. The night employees who came in early and then stayed for their shift as well. Those not on duty who just showed up to help. The physicians who were not Emergency Room doctors, but still came into the Emergency Room to lend a hand where ever they could. Staff who stepped out of their normal job duties to act as runners and answer phones, dietary folks who made sure everyone was fed, and the housekeepers who came in knowing that we would need rooms to be cleaned and turned over quickly, as well as priests, pastors, and chaplains who showed up to support both the victims and staff, the list goes on and on. What is even more impressive is that many of those people were scheduled to work the next day, and I don’t think it even occurred to them to not show up and take care of patients again.   I am quite sure Medical Center Hospital and Midland Memorial Hospital administration saw the same at their facilities—amazing professionals stepping up for our community.  Again, I am awed by all of you.

Finally, I want to thank all of the hospitals and health care professionals across the state and the nation who reached out to offer staff, supplies, blood, and support in any way they could. We have such amazing people here in Odessa, I have been able to say, “Thank you, we are good for now, but we will call if that changes”. But that so many have offered is again, awe inspiring.

For those of you who had friends and/or loved ones among the wounded or those we lost, there are no words that can express how my heart aches for you. If there is any comfort, please know this incredible community is mourning with you, and we are here to support you as long as you need us.

Odessa, TX

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