Doctors emotionally drained after responding to Dallas police shooting

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Doctors at Dallas' Parkland Hospital were overcome with emotion as they recalled their work on the night a gunman ambushed police officers.

On Thursday night, Parkland Hospital was busy, as usual.

Then, one by one, the police cars started pulling up. Sirens were blaring. Suddenly, the already packed emergency room was swallowed up.

"This has rocked some guys to their core who I thought unshakable," said Trauma Center Director Dr. Alex Eastman. "We pride ourselves on doing whatever, whenever."

Doctors at Parkland Hospital treated seven officers injured in the attacks. Three of them died.

"I think one of the toughest things I've ever had to do is stand outside the rooms of those fallen guys providing security detail and then take them out to be transferred to the ME's office through the line of officers paying respects to their fallen comrades," said Dallas County Hospital District Police Department Captain Dan Birbeck.

That Thursday night, there were more surgeons and police officers than patients. Nobody wanted to go home.

"The officers who had already put their time in wouldn't leave," Capt. Birbeck explained. "Our main objective was to make sure this facility was safe. We had received multiple unconfirmed reports of shooters. We didn't know if we would receive one of the shooters."

Dr. Brian Williams was in charge of the emergency room. As an African American, he says the night was troubling -- confusing, even.

"I think about it every day that I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night," said Dr. Williams, choking back tears. "I want police officers to see me, a black man, and understand that I support you, I will defend you and I will care for you. That doesn't mean that I do not fear you."

Dr. Williams said he supports police officers, but doesn't condone recent police killings against African American men.

"The preceding days of black men dying by the hands of police officers affected me," he explained. "I think the reasons are obvious: I fit that demographic. But I abhor what has been done to these officers and grieve with their families."

"It's much more complicated for me personally because it's not just about that night. It's about the racial undertones that affect all of this," Dr. Williams said. "It began for me much longer before those cops came through the door. I don't know what I'm going to do about that but right now it's certainly a struggle."
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