Mia Bransford, a nurse in the pediatric emergency department at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, was one of the few trained health care workers on the scene last July when a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., left 12 dead and 58 injured.
Bransford, in Colorado for a family reunion, was attending one of three midnight showings of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 Theater with her sister, Marisa. They were not in the particular theater targeted by the gunman who fired into the crowd.
“The first thing was the fire alarm began flashing, like a strobe, and a recorded voice said we needed to evacuate the theater,” recalls Bransford, who is also an EMT. “I heard people saying, ‘My friend’s been shot’ or ‘Somebody’s been shot.’ I identified myself as an emergency nurse and said that I could offer aid.” She and a firefighter worked with several patients, including one with a head wound and another with a bad leg wound.
Although the sisters weren’t cleared to leave the scene by authorities until 4 a.m., Bransford was awake all the following day, running on adrenaline and pondering the what-ifs. “[Being involved in this] has helped me not to take life for granted, and to know to tell those I love that I love them,” she says.