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Medical News & Perspectives
January 20, 1999

Learning Lessons From True-life School Trauma

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JAMA. 1999;281(3):220-221. doi:10.1001/jama.281.3.220-JMN0120-3-1

On May 21 of last year, physicians and emergency personnel in and around Springfield, Ore, had the unfortunate opportunity to perform what other trauma teams only practice.

At 7:56 AM, Lane County central dispatch received the first 911 calls—gunshots were reported at Thurston High School. Unknown at that moment was that 15-year-old Kipland "Kip" Kinkel had allegedly opened fire on his classmates in the school's cafeteria, killing two and injuring 22.

The physicians and nurses at two hospitals were about to be inundated with injured students, panicked families and friends, and annoyingly persistent media persons. According to those involved, emergency personnel at all scenes handled the situation as well as they could and didn't compromise the care of any of the injured. But that's not to say everything went without a hitch.