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Stanley Cup brightens day for Las Vegas trauma center workers

Doctors, staff members who treated shooting victims take pictures with trophy

by Danny Webster / Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- When the Stanley Cup visited University Medical Center on Thursday, it was much more than a way to commemorate Las Vegas becoming an NHL city. 

It was a way for doctors and staff members from the trauma center, some of them who worked the night of the mass shooting at a music festival in the city on Oct. 1, to take their minds off treating the victims during what has been a difficult week and a half, if only briefly. 

"I think people forget sometimes how hard it is for the employees, as well, to deal with what they've seen," UMC physician experience coordinator Breann Montesanto said of the hospital workers taking photos with the Cup. "Something like this brings happiness and a sense of community here."

Fifty-eight people were killed and 489 injured in the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Newsweek reported that 104 people were treated at UMC, which has the only trauma center in southern Nevada. Some victims were driven there by fellow concertgoers and civilians.

The Vegas Golden Knights, the city's first major professional sports team, played their inaugural home opener at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Montesanto was there and saw the pregame ceremony that included the Golden Knights honoring the shooting victims and first responders.

The names of the dead were displayed on the ice, and there was a moment of silence lasting 58 seconds, one for each person killed.

"It brought me to tears," Montesanto said. "The tribute and what they did having the survivors drop the puck and names on [the] ice. … The [Golden] Knights have really set the standard on the way sports teams should respond to situations like this."

Danny Del Zoppo, a patient transporter at UMC, was at the center the night of the shooting. The native of upstate New York has worked there for 25 years and said he had the same reaction of most others living in Las Vegas: He never expected something like this to happen here.

"You see things like this all the time in New York, Boston, other parts of the country," he said. "You just kind of wonder if it's inevitable, if something's going to happen here someday. Working at this facility, knowing we're the go-to place to take care of disasters and crises in this city, you just kind of wonder when it's going to happen. The way this place functioned and the way we handled it, I'm proud."

Del Zoppo said he attended a music festival on Saturday about 200 miles away in San Bernardino, California, where a sign was brought onstage during a performance by Queens of the Stone Age reading "Vegas Strong" and listing the names of the 58 dead on the back. 

"It makes you realize that humanity does have a lot of good, and with all the evil in the world, you know, we can still come together during these moments and shine our light," he said. "Our potential really shows in times like these."

Montesanto said the Golden Knights have played a big part in that healing process and will continue to do so.

"It speaks so strongly about the character in Las Vegas and the character of our hockey players here," she said. "Everyone has come together in a way that has surpassed everyone's expectations. It shows we really are 'Vegas Strong.'"

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