Video: Ronald Reagan’s Close Call

On March 20, 1981 President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. New information reveals that it was a much closer call than most of us knew. CBS News’ Bob Schieffer interviewed Jerry Parr, who was the Secret Service agent charged with protecting the President that day. When he threw the President into the car he was unaware that he had been shot. They were going to return to the White House when Parr realized the severity of the situation. Reagan, whose codename was Rawhide, started spitting up blood. A lot of blood. Parr immediately instructed the driver to go to George Washington University Hospital.

By chance, the closest hospital was on the campus of George Washington University, a hospital that had a dedicated team of trauma doctors and nurses standing-by – something few other hospitals had in those days.

“When I walked down the emergency room after being STAT-paged to go down there, I had no clue why they wanted me,” said Dr. Joe Giordano. “And I saw all these strange people around, you know, with their earplugs in and everything like that. And I said, ‘What are these people all doing here?’ I walked in and there he was on the gurney stark naked. So it was quite a shock.”

Five years earlier, when Dr. Giordano had taken over trauma care at George Washignton, its importance was only beginning to be appreciated.

“Surgeons were returning from Vietnam, and the first thing they noticed was that, gee, in the field they had everything they needed for resuscitation of the trauma patient, and the patients did very, very well because there was a trained team working by protocol with everything at their fingertips,” said Dr. Giordano.

“They came back to the United States and it was a disaster. Emergency rooms did not have experienced personnel seeing patients.”

Giordano believes the decision to bring Reagan straight to his emergency room made all the difference.

Thank God for the quick actions and quick thinking of Agent Jerry Parr!

You can read the whole story at CBS News. Here’s video of the interview.

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