Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The scene in Blacksburg
"The injuries were just amazing. This man was brutal. There was not a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them," said Dr. Joseph Cacioppo. He was one of the many off-duty doctors and nurses who called in to help at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, Virginia, after Monday's campus rampage.

Three bullet wounds in each person he saw.
33 dead including the gunman.
17 wounded remain hospitalized.
Two hours between shootings.
25,000 Virginia Tech students.
Four major and one minor surgeries performed on Monday. None overnight.

It's hard not to focus on numbers. It's what journalists default to when big news breaks. A little more than 24 hours ago, the first reports said that one person was wounded and one person was dead. There was an audible gasp at the news conference when the number of dead increased to 20. By the time the final toll - 33 - was announced, we were already on our way to Virginia.

I'm part of a large CNN team in place in and around Blacksburg. Legions of correspondents, crews and producers from every network have descended. Satellite trucks dot the campus. Our mission here, as medical journalists, is to get beyond the numbers and to tell the stories of people at the heart of this tragedy. We want to hear about the heroic doctors and nurses who saved lives yesterday -- the life-and-death decisions. We seek to understand what the community will learn from this unparalleled trauma. We're working hard to bring you answers.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be joining me this afternoon. What do you want to learn from our reporting? What details are you waiting to hear? Were you just as staggered by the numbers as we were?
I thought Dr. Gupta brought up one of the more salient observations on what causes mass murderers to act. He said that, if I remember correctly, that 1/3 of these people have been found to have brain abnormalities from tumors to other problems.

I have known that for many years and have always wondered why brain scans are not routinely done in residential Mental Health institutions where the patient's personality disorder(s) point to the worth of doing the proper, scientific testing.

So much of what goes on in even the best of mental health care facilities is just garbage and it's the rare person who even sees enough of a psychiatrist to get meaningful help. Pills are doled out to stupify patients into easy to manage people but in that fogged out condition it is almost impossible to comprehend the world around you.

I hope we will hear more from Dr. Gupta because he is the only "talking head" I have heard throughout this ordeal who has a definite contribution to make to our working towards solutions.
Hearing about Cho's behavior before the shooting, could he have had Asperger's?
I highly suggest that you go re-read that description of Asperger's Disorder. I know quite a few people with it (my son is one of them) and they are not violently anti-social, delusional, or mentally ill. They are usually brilliant, sort of "odd" in personality, and take everything literally- they don't understand sarcasm or jokes. But Cho? Never. No way. To even suggest it is insulting to Aspies.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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