Cherie Many 1

LSU Alumni Association Las Vegas President and Baton Rouge native Cherie Many worked on victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting October 2, 2017 at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center. 

Cherie Many, a Baton Rouge native and LSU Las Vegas alumni chapter president, received a call late Sunday night that sent her rushing toward the hospital.

A gunman had opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, with a death toll of at least 59 by Monday evening and hundreds of others injured. Hospitals were being inundated with people who had been shot, and waves started arriving at the Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center.

As a cardiac anesthesiologist, Many was needed.

"We saw a lot of gunshot wounds in the emergency room and, of course, some fatalities," Many said in a telephone interview late Monday afternoon after spending more than 15 hours at work with several more still to go. "Everybody was in the emergency room; we were doing rapid assessment."

The large-scale disaster was nothing new to her. After she graduated in 1995 from the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, she spent five years as a captain in the U.S. Air Force.

She was part of the medical response to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya during her time in the Air Force, working at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. A few years after she completed her residency at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, she returned to the Crescent City in 2005 as part of the medical response to Hurricane Katrina.

On Monday, she described the waves of casualties arriving from the Las Vegas Strip while hospitals across Las Vegas tried to assess who was in the most dire condition. Gunshot wounds were the most frequent sight, and Many worked on two surgeries Monday for gunshot victims.

One had been shot in the head, and the other shot through the abdomen.

Psychological trauma of the mass shooting was evident in most of the patients she attended to in the emergency room, she said. People were in shock, crying, shaking, some not talking at all. Some arrived at the hospital knowing their friends or loved ones were still lying on the ground 4 miles away at the scene of the concert, Many said. 

"It's been devastating for a lot of people," she said. "The aftermath is going to unfold here and it's mostly going to be psychological issues. The scars will be both on the outside and inside."

As Monday wore on, the influx of critical patients slowed but people with secondary injuries also arrived at the hospital. One patient had a heart attack while running away from the shooting, while others fell down and had various contusions, Many said. 

More than 1,000 people lined up to give blood, she said, praising Las Vegas as "the biggest little town in America."

Those looking to help from afar should think about families who need to have prolonged visits to Las Vegas while they take care of those recovering in hospitals, Many said. She predicted that many of the victims will need multiple surgeries.

"It's very overwhelming for them and for the staff," Many said.

Many, who was born in Baton Rouge, studied microbiology at LSU and earned her undergraduate degree from there in 1991. She has a house in St. Amant, and said she visits often. But when she's in Las Vegas, she organizes events for other Tiger fans in the area through the alumni chapter there.

But for now, her energy is focused on the victims of the mass shooting.

"I really haven't gotten a chance to take a breath yet. Right now, I'm just sort of running on doughnuts and caffeine."

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​