‘We just had no chance’: Doctors recount effort to save Covenant School victims

“I wish that we could’ve done more to help,” the doctor told WSMV4.
WSMV's Brendan Tierney reports.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Monday was an ordinary day for Vanderbilt Children’s trauma surgeon Dr. Joe Fusco. He started his morning making normal rounds at 6 a.m. and was getting ready to head into a surgery when he got a call about a reported mass shooting at Covenant School.

Fusco said the report of one child being shot quickly jumped to three, and they triggered the mass casualty response plan. Doctors, nurses and other support staff gathered in the ER and prepared six rooms with all the equipment, blood and medicine needed to begin treating their patients.

“We see a lot of these things often, but obviously nothing like this,” Fusco said. “This is something that’s tragic, something that I don’t think we can truly be ready for to see. I think that we are as prepared as we possibly can, but something like this is just so extraordinary and such a terrible, devastating feeling that it’s really abnormal.”

Fusco said they were in constant contact with the paramedics driving the first three children to the hospital with gunshot wounds from an AR-15. Extra staff from the Vanderbilt adult and VA hospital came to the pediatric ER to help handle any other patients that were injured.

Even with all resources they needed, Fusco said it was already too late to save three shot children, Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and Will Kinney, when they arrived at the ER.

“I wish that we could’ve done more to help,” Fusco said. “I wish that we were able to do something for these children, and I am just so terribly sorry.”

“It’s just a gruesome way of injuring a child,” Fusco said about AR-15 wounds. “Just a tragic and devastating thing to see. I can’t imagine what the family and the community is going through.”

While Fusco said he’s devastated they were not able to save everyone’s life in this traumatic shooting, he’s proud of his team that prevented the death count from rising by caring for many other children that were badly cut by broken glass.

He said it is their mission to care for the patient that is in front of them no matter what else is happening, and they are prepared for whatever comes through their door next.