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Orlando Survivors, Caregivers Cope in Aftermath of Shootings

  • VOA Staff

Patience Carter hid in a bathroom with her friends during the shooting rampage early Sunday at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

She said she just wanted the shooting to end, even if it meant her own death.

“So I was just begging God to just please take me, and I just wanted to close my eyes and just let him, just literally take the soul out of my body,” Carter said Tuesday. “I was begging for God to take the soul out of my body because I didn’t want to feel more pain. I didn’t want to get any more shots.”

Carter, from Philadelphia, was shot in the leg and remains at a Florida hospital. She said she felt guilty for being alive.

Angel Colon also described the shots in the midst of chaos.

WATCH: Orlando shooting survivor details harrowing ordeal

“Everyone started running everywhere," he said. "I got trampled over. I shattered and broke my bones in my left leg. By this time, I couldn’t walk at all. All I could do was just lie down there while everyone was just running on top of me, trying to get where they had to be. All I could hear was the shotgun — one after another. And people screaming, people yelling for help.”

Colon said he heard the shooter, Omar Mateen, returning, and as he did, he was shooting previous victims — people who were dead on the floor — to be sure they were dead.

“He shoots the girl next to me, and I am lying there thinking, 'I am next, I am dead.' ”

But Colon did not die in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. He faked being dead until he was taken out of the nightclub by a policeman, who dragged him across the floor littered with glass from the shooting spree.

Shot in the hand, the hip and several times in the leg, Colon was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, along with many other victims of the shooting spree.

On Tuesday, he was still there, talking to reporters at a news conference that included the medical personnel who worked to save him and the others.

WATCH: Orlando hospital staff fight to save nightclub casualties

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Expression of thanks

“If it weren't for you guys, I definitely wouldn't be here,” said Colon, sitting in a wheelchair. He thanked the policeman who saved him and the hospital's doctors and nurses who treated him.

The faces of nurses in green scrubs around the room lit up. But their smiles were more emotional than happy.

Initially, reporters in the room sat there with glassy faces. Then they started to shout over one another with questions.

Dr. Chadwick Smith, one of the doctors who treated victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, describes how he and others called for reinforcements that night, at a news conference at the Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center, June 14, 2016.

Dr. Chadwick Smith, one of the doctors who treated victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, describes how he and others called for reinforcements that night, at a news conference at the Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center, June 14, 2016.

Later, one of the doctors who was on the scene Sunday compared the mayhem at the medical center to the clamor at the press conference.

Dr. Tim Bullard told VOA that patients were crying out in pain and the hospital staff members were calling out to each other to get what they needed to treat patients.

“People try to get louder and louder so they can be heard, so it escalates," he said. "But in the end, it was OK and we got everything done, but it’s very much, very loud.”

Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, the hospital's trauma medical director, compared the situation to "a war scene. Trauma bay was very full. We had patients in every corner."

Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, one of the doctors who treated victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, speaks at a news conference at the Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center, June 14, 2016.

Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, one of the doctors who treated victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, speaks at a news conference at the Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center, June 14, 2016.

The Orlando Regional Medical Center staff members uniformly credited their training for allowing them to do their jobs under enormous pressure, but they were uncertain about how the experience would affect them in the long run.

“It’s been hard to sleep for the past few days,” said one.

“You keep reliving it,” said another.

“I don’t know how this is going to affect me," a third staffer said. "We do see this [kind of trauma], we just don’t see it in this magnitude.”

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