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Trauma surgeon who treated Uvalde victims reflects 1 year later

A trauma surgeon who helped treat victims of the Uvalde mass shooting has now helped start a campaign to turn bystanders into first responders.
Trauma surgeon who treated Uvalde victims reflects 1 year later
Posted at 6:30 PM, May 24, 2023

It's been a year since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Last year, Scripps News met Dr. Ronald Stewart, a trauma surgeon who treated some of the Uvalde victims, and now a year later, we traveled to the University Hospital in San Antonio to check in with him.

Scripps News' cameras captured the moment emergency teams at University Hospital in San Antonio prepared the room for a patient who had been shot.

"We're constantly preparing for the next patient who might come in," Stewart said.

A year ago, the situation in the emergency room was far more critical. That's when Stewart said he faced one of the worst days of his life as a medical professional.

"I think these things definitely cause reaction and pain for the health care professionals caring for patients," he said. "Part of our job is preparing for mass casualty events too, like a mass shooting."

Stewart said he still thinks about May 24 every day. He said it's still not so much about moving forward; it's more so just adapting.

SEE MORE: Searching for peace one year after mass shooting in Uvalde

"I do get emotional about talking about the children who were injured and the children who witnessed every single thing that happened in that classroom," Stewart said. "I'm not certain I've slept totally well since Uvalde. It's been a year."

In the span of five years, Stewart has treated victims of two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. modern history: The Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017 and the Uvalde shooting in 2022.

He's now focused on advocating for solutions to reduce gun violence.

"I believe it takes changing the conversation from not a debate where I try to convince someone else to believe the way I believe, not a fight where I'm arguing, saying that I should win this fight. It takes a conversation around what is the right thing to do for our children, for our families," Stewart said.

Stewart, along with other medical professionals, started the "Stop the Bleed" campaign to teach vital skills that can save lives, like how to pack wounds or apply a tourniquet. 

"I can bleed to death in as short as five minutes, and so early response really makes a difference," Stewart said.

As for Stewart, he says the war isn't lost. He says he dreams of a safer country for children and families.

"If we can change that conversation, then we can get to really important things like getting elected officials to actually work together," he said. "We need bipartisan action."

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