UVALDE, Texas – Warning: This story contains information that may be disturbing to some viewers.
Dr. Roy Guerrero was having lunch with his staff on May 24 when he started getting frantic texts about a school shooting with multiple victims in Uvalde.
Guerrero called Uvalde Memorial Hospital to ask if he could help. He then raced to the hospital to find a scene filled with horror.
“It was a complete madhouse — what you see in disaster movies,” Guerrero said in an interview with Today. “Doctors and nurses in every single room; people running around like maniacs; kids in the hallway bleeding and screaming; surgeons working on kids.
“The most horrible part, I guess, was just seeing parents I knew outside screaming, asking me to look for their kids. You never really get that out of your head.”
Guerrero, who is Uvalde’s only pediatrician, treated eight children that tragic day. Four of them are his regular patients. Five other patients of his were among the 19 Robb Elementary School students killed in the shooting. Guerrero also attended the school when he was a child.
Among the children Guerrero encountered while making the rounds in the hospital was an 11-year-old girl he has treated since she was a newborn. The girl, who had bullet fragments in her shoulder, told the doctor what happened in the classroom.
“She said she saw people being shot and falling dead. Her best friend was next to her, so she grabbed some of her blood that was coming out of her, smeared it on herself and played dead on the floor,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said when he saw the girl the next day for a follow-up appointment, she was already displaying signs of PTSD.
“She was literally shaking,” he said.
As the hours went on, it became apparent that some of the parents outside the hospital were going to receive the news no parent wants to hear. Guerrero was instructed to be in the front of the receiving area to immediately help the other patients the hospital was expecting.
“We were supposed to have 14 more kids show up, and they wanted me to triage them,” he said.
The 14 children never arrived.
The trauma from that fateful day caught up with Guerrero two days later.
“I lost it for a little while,” he said. “And that’s OK, but I told myself to get it together. I have to take care of the rest of these kids. I can’t lose myself.”
Guerrero treats about 3,000 patients in the Uvalde area, and he said he feels protective about every single one of them.
“The second I start taking care of a kid, they’re my kid,” he said. “What people don’t realize is that I have 3,000 babies — and that day, I lost some of them.”