Message from the President
August 2019

Hemant Vankawala, MD, FACEP

The El Paso shooting continues to be on my mind. I spent three years training in emergency medicine in El Paso. My wife grew up in El Paso. My daughter frequently visits El Paso to spend time with her grandparents and cousins. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hosting my first Board meeting as TCEP’s newest President, and I chose El Paso. Though there is much to share about the good work done by members of the board on behalf of doctors, our patients, and the practice of emergency medicine in Texas, the El Paso shooting continues to be on my mind. Given the recent events, I choose to share the following thoughts with you.

I can remember, as clear as day, the first time I stood at the head of the bed with the trauma team caring for a 16-year-old male with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. I remember blood leaking from his wounds. I remember the room buzzing with men and women working furiously to follow our resuscitative checklists and protocols. I remember the monitor, initially chirping at a fast clip, slowing - its sounds eventually coalescing into a dull, monotonous tone that signaled the beginning of chest compressions and the end of life for that young man. In the moments that we were waiting for the priest, I remember collecting my thoughts before we walked to the family room to inform those who loved him most that he was gone. That was my first-hand witness of a life wasted, taken too easily, and far too soon.

Each of us carries similar stories with us. We are more than just individual vessels for these memories. We are more than just the front line of our nation’s health care. We are often the most vocal and committed advocates for our patients. As content experts on the end results of gunshot wounds, we have much to contribute to the national conversation on gun violence. Undeniably, this conversation is difficult and uncomfortable. But it is happening, and we have an important role to play. As our country continues to search its soul for answers, I encourage each and every one of you to be a part of the process.  Your patients need you, your communities need you, and your country needs you and your voice now more than ever.