D. None of the above

A boys’ baseball team I coached recently lost a game in such an excruciating fashion that I couldn’t rely on all the standby coach catchphrases.

“We’ll get ’em next time,” would fall flat, especially when we had them for the taking. We were up by two runs and were in complete control of the game until the final outs.

“Hey, this one’s on me.” That’s nice and can work in deflecting any possible blame, but the kids generally don’t buy into it. If they believe it, it also sets a dangerous precedent for future losses.

“Hey, coach,” they might ask at the end of another game. “This one’s clearly not on you, right? Isn’t it Johnny’s fault?”

Those final three outs never happened. What made the game even more difficult to swallow was that the other team didn’t put a single ball in play in their final at bat. Four walks, a hit batter and a few wild pitches later, we were done.

We trudged to left field for the postgame analysis and pep talk.

“Hey,” I said. “Look, uh, this is one game, right?”

I could see it in their eyes: “Weak and feeble, coach. You’re going to have to do better than that.”

“You know, we did a lot right this game.”

“Who cares,” their sullen, downcast eyes indicated.

“We lost.”

“OK, well, we can’t win them all.”

I didn’t even need to look at them to know what they were thinking. I was thinking it, too, as the words came dribbling out of my mouth. “Seriously? You’re going with that?”

“Boys, I know you all did your best.”

Their eyes moved to their parents, as if they were saying telepathically: “Get me out of here, I want to go home.”

“Hey,” I said, a small smirk on my face. “Guys, who saw Joey’s slide at second today? Was that the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen?”

Joey had wandered too far from second and would have been out if the pitcher had thrown the ball to the second baseman. When the second baseman had to move a few feet from the base, Joey dove back head first and landed flat on his chest, a yard short of the base. He crawled on his hands and knees across the dirt to the base, arriving just in time to beat the second baseman’s tag.

“That was funny,” several of them seemed to say. Joey, you see, is a bit sensitive so that comment could have been dangerous. Even he, however, offered a small smile. It was an absurd moment to savor. And, fortunately for us, he was safe, so laughing about it was probably safe.

In that final, fateful, painful inning, the first pitcher walked two and hit a batter, sending the tying run to second and the winning run to first. I brought in a tall relief pitcher who promptly walked another two batters. A wild pitch later, the game was over.

“Fred, do you know why I put you in there at the end of the game?” I asked.

“Because you believed in me?” he offered hopefully.

“Well, sure, but the real reason is that you’re much taller than me.”

Again, I was reaching for the absurd. No one looked at their parents.

“Yeah, you see, it’s not right for a 12-year-old boy to be taller than his coach. I needed to cut you down to size.”

The grin spread quickly across his face, as well as those of the other four boys who look down on me.

No, it wasn’t in the playbook, but it worked.

Where do we get the “Oh, right, I get it,” moments? We’re so close to ourselves and our lives that those moments are often hard to see. It’s like in the movies, where someone has a close friend: Lo and behold, that friend turns into something much more, once personal introspection is abandoned and it is realized how important such a friendship is deep down.

Beyond the romantic comedies, however, we can turn to dramas, action films or other forms of entertainment for a broader awareness of ourselves and our lives.

Let’s say we’re driving on the Long Island Expressway and somebody cuts us off. What do we do? Well, if we’ve got kids in the car, we might grind our teeth, hold on tight to the steering wheel and fight the urge to say things that would look something like “$#$#@%$!!!” in a cartoon.

But what did that person make us do? Did we have to hit the brake a bit when we’re on the way to a soccer game? Did she interrupt our train of thought when we were about to cure cancer, come up with a solution for tension in the Middle East, or figure out a way to reduce fossil fuel emissions from the thousands of planes that soar overhead?

Is it possible that she was racing home from work to take care of a kid with a stuffy nose, to hear someone’s first violin concert or congratulate her son for earning his first A in social studies?

Yes, most of the time we’re, thankfully, stuck in the world of the small stuff. If we’re fortunate enough, we’re not worried every moment about taking care of basic needs. I know people have told us many times not to sweat the small stuff and they’ve even urged us to understand that it’s all small stuff. The problem is that we’ve become accustomed to a world in which everything is available to us right now and in which we don’t want to wait for anything or anyone.

How’s all that extra time working out for us? Are we all enjoying the chance to spend more quality time with each other? We seem to have freed up our time so that we can disconnect with the people around us, staying plugged in to a virtual world devoid of awkward silences, driven by words that pour out of our fingers instead of our mouths. We don’t have to comb our hair or check our teeth to send someone a funny text with a little premade goofy face.

This isn’t a diatribe against electronics. I enjoy the instant gratification of knowing something that comes from ubiquitous Internet access.

In movies like “American Beauty,” we see Kevin Spacey “get it” a bit too late. He doesn’t see the wonder of his life, his wife and his daughter until he can’t appreciate or show it.

In real life, even people with jobs they dreamt about often get so caught up in what they’re doing that they seem to miss “it.” Of course, when these small, unflattering moments occur for our fame-generated celebrities, eager members of the paparazzi capture them “losing it.”

It’d be difficult to smell the flowers, become energized and inspired by a child’s question, or pause to appreciate a shifting wind all the time. We wouldn’t get much done and, I suspect, might miss a bill, deadline, meeting or two.

But, wouldn’t it be nice if those “Oh, right, I get it,” moments came more often, giving us the ability to appreciate the unseen air we breathe and the world of infinite possibilities that awaits around the corner?

Bruce Stillman is still very determined even if he sounds frustrated. I interviewed the CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory last week when the research institution released, for the first time, a set of numbers indicating the positive economic impact of CSHL on Long Island.

While proud of an institution that has produced eight Nobel Prize winners, Stillman sounded a theme I hear regularly when I interview scientists at CSHL, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University: The country isn’t investing enough in research.

“The reduction in federal funding means we do have to support the institution through philanthropy more than we’ve been doing in the past,” Stillman said. “Hopefully, Congress will realize they should reverse the dramatic reduction in funding in the federal budgets. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Indeed, investments in research around the country make sense on many levels. For starters, many of us have unfortunate direct experience with a deadly disease like cancer, which slowly tears through a person’s body. We have also witnessed friends who have demonstrated spectacular courage and determination in the face of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other neurodegenerative diseases.

Inspired by our friends and neighbors, we walk, run or do triathlons and we spend time in church, synagogues and mosques praying for them and for strangers battling the same affliction.

Scientists aren’t just looking for ways to lessen the symptoms or ease the pain — they’re also working to find signs of the disease before they appear. Angelina Jolie raised awareness of the potential benefits of preventing problems when she elected to have several surgeries.

As their doctors would rush to tell them, people shouldn’t have surgeries just because a famous actress did. Places like CSHL can provide the kind of knowledge that provides information that empowers informed decisions.

“There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet,” Stillman said. “What the scientific community is trying to do is to make sure the information about genomics and medicine is correct and [people aren’t relying on information] out there that is misleading.”

Beyond the applied science part, however, researchers who are doing basic science often wind up making critical discoveries. By only funding those projects that might have a direct impact on human health, can and will be too self-limiting. What we learn can and often does help us. On the other side of that scale, what we don’t know can’t have any impact.

And then there’s the financial benefit. Research often has a multiplier effect, creating jobs, bringing in revenue and supporting the local economy.

“Everybody knows, including politicians, that science is an economic driver,” Stillman said. “If you take away public research funding, you’re basically giving up.”

Stillman said that what’s gone on in the last 15 years in the United States “bucks the trend since World War II, when the U.S. was invested and was a world leader in research.”

Stillman himself, who was born in Australia, has won numerous awards and runs his own DNA lab, said he came to this country because of American leadership in research, but now “things are changing rapidly. People like me will not come to this country because there’ll be opportunities elsewhere.”

CSHL, BNL, Stony Brook and LIJ are all huge economic benefits for Long Island, Stillman said.

“Unless this gets reversed,” he warned, “we’ll be in trouble.”

So, what will turn the tide?

“There’ll come a time when one can’t ignore the government role in economic development,” he said. It’s happened before, he argues, as investments in research after World War II helped bring the U.S. out of debt.

As a result future generations benefited enormously — and will do so again.

A friend recently forwarded an amusing Time Out article that included a list of things you’d never hear a parent say in New York City. I’d like to offer a suburban version, with the qualifying caveat that these are probably things you’d rarely hear a suburban parent say:

“Searching for a parking spot when three of my kids are late for their activities is so much fun. I’m sure one will open up soon and it’ll be incredibly close to where we need to go.”

“Awesome, the price of gas went up again. How about that? That’ll give us a chance to practice our math skills, guessing at the percentage increase in the cost of filling our tank.”

“An away game? Great. That gives us so much quality time to play a real-life version of an arcade game from our generation: Frogger.”

“You told your six friends we’d be driving? Fantastic, but you know our car only fits four, right?”

“Oh, hey, that’s a great idea. I’ll drive and you completely ignore me with a huge grin on your face while you type into your electronics. I thoroughly enjoy talking to myself.”

“You need one purple sock, one red sock and a Dr. Seuss hat in the next 20 minutes? Sure, no problem.”

“Why would my child need to sign up for another activity?”

“You hear that? Ah, yes, the leaf blower and the car alarm. Early morning music for the whole family.”

“Of course we can go to the new frozen yogurt place for breakfast.”

“Hey, I understand. Your son needed to practice his hitting outside at 6 a.m. because he has a big game. Well, good luck to him.”

“I’m sure we can find an art store that’s open at 11 p.m. tonight for a project that’s due tomorrow.”

“I don’t know how they do it. But every year they seem to put together exactly the right combination of kids for each class.”

“The teachers are just getting better and better. I’m sure all the tutors in this town are going to struggle to find students who need any extra help.”

“They have it so much harder than we did when we were young, poor dears.”

“Why, yes, I think we should change everything we do so that we can live like the Jones family. That’s a great idea, staying up until 2 a.m. on Monday nights. I’m not sure why we didn’t think of that sooner.”

“The older generation looks so much better in selfies than the younger one.”

“Fantastic, you’ve signed up for a team with all the same players for another season. That means the same parents will all get to hang out together and watch the same set of neuroses unfold during each quarter of the game.”

“They’ve added more standardized testing? What an incredible opportunity to learn and grow. You’re going to be so much further ahead than children in Japan, who are wasting their time with new material every day.”

“I’d love to answer your question, honey, but I’m not sure if there’s anywhere around here that I can get coffee first.”

“I’m sure there’s a great restaurant open close by at 11 p.m. on a Monday night that’ll be thrilled to have our team of 25 celebrate the end of another great season.”

“Oh, great, here comes Sheila, whose kids are so much better than mine, yours and those of everyone else. I can’t wait to hear about all the awards her kids have won this week.”

“So glad we were able to provide such a complete meal for the raccoons last night.”

“Absolutely. Everything is just perfect in the suburbs.”

by -
0 343

When you’re meeting deadlines every week, dealing with angry clients, when traffic takes forever for an important meeting or when body parts that all worked together for all those years now seem to be pulling in opposite directions, it’s easy to let the whole notion of romance slip.

Sure, we have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and Valentine’s Day — well, you have Valentine’s Day.

I’m not a big fan of mass, romantic gestures on cue that support the card and flower industries, when we can make our boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives feel special. But, much of the time, especially when we’ve got kids who have mastered the art of playing on our last nerve with the kinds of conversations that are soaked in sarcasm and disrespect, we might find it a tad challenging to find the time, energy and resources to raise the level of our romantic game.

And yet, one day our children, who just yesterday seemed to have absolutely no use for the opposite sex, have made that remarkable transition from whispering to each other about who they like to mustering the courage to speak to that person.

Recently, our daughter and her friends have been pulled into the whirlwind of an eighth-grade formal.

The communication network is extraordinarily efficient and reliable. Everyone, it seems, knows who is asking everyone else. It’s too bad they can’t add some algebra to the messages they’re all delivering to each other or, perhaps, a few Latin phrases that might be on an AP exam.

As an aside, it’s too bad meteorologists, who still seem to be living with egg on their faces from the big blizzard miss of 2015, can’t develop a forecasting model with the same level of middle school accuracy.

These kids seem to have taken a page from the birds on suburban streets, who sing loudly through the day, calling to their would-be partners to come share some quality time in their cheery, oak, maple and dogwood trees. One boy interrupted everyone’s lunch in the cafeteria, took a microphone and asked a girl to the formal.

Another suitor, who wanted to go to the dance with a softball player, took softballs and wrote one letter on each ball, to spell out “formal”?

And, speaking of sporting equipment, another courageous boy filled a girl’s locker with ping pong balls, which spilled out on the floor when she opened it. In the back of her locker, he’d put a note saying he finally found enough, uh, balls to ask her to the dance. She said “yes.”

There have been a few broken hearts and a few near misses, with a girl saying “yes” to someone just as another boy approached her with flowers. Those flowers suffered an unfortunate fate in the hands of the tardy suitor.

Learning that a boy she didn’t want to accompany to the dance planned to ask her at an after-school activity, another girl changed her plans and was suddenly missing in action.

Fortunately, it seems that, on balance, the anxiety level and frustration is considerably lower than the amusement these classmates have for this process.

As the boys are finding increasingly clever ways to ask the girls to the dance, I can’t help wondering if adult women and men find a similar satisfaction with a good romantic comedy or chick flick once in a while. The sound of those birds singing outside our homes may be just as recognizable and pleasant as a part of the courtship dance to men as they are to women — or indeed to the growing children.

by -
0 410

By Daniel Dunaief

In the course of a month, two events have occurred that, perhaps some time in the next several decades, may help people make that incredibly long journey to Mars.

First, Scott Kelly went up in space. OK, so, that’s not such a shocker. Kelly is an astronaut and that’s what astronauts do. What makes Kelly’s trip different, however, is that he plans to spend an entire year at the International Space Station, setting an American record for the longest time away from Earth.

Kelly’s identical twin Mark, a retired astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will of course spend that same year on Earth. Having identical twins in two places for the same period of time presents an incredible opportunity. Mark is in reality the “control” in the experiment, giving NASA, doctors and anyone else interested in the effects of prolonged periods of time in space an opportunity to see how the two brothers react differently to different environments. Identical twins present that rare opportunity to rule out the nature part of the nature-nurture dynamic.

Some day, the information NASA records from the Kelly twins will help us understand the kinds of preparations necessary to safeguard any would-be space traveler from the harmful effects of higher radiation and no gravity for a journey to Mars that by current technology would take some 250 days. After all, our genes have evolved over thousands of years to life on Earth. Just because we’ve figured out to send ourselves deep into space doesn’t mean we can suddenly fine-tune the gift of our biological systems the way we might raise a heat shield on a space module.

A month after Scott Kelly returned to the ISS, where he’d spent considerable time on previous missions, a team of scientists, led by Javier Martin-Torres, a Spanish researcher who is a professor in Sweden and used to work in the United States at NASA, published a study based on a year’s worth of meteorological data from the Red Planet.

As it turns out, Martin-Torres and his team have determined it is highly likely Mars has liquid water — today. It’s not enough water to open a super-exclusive pool club or to plant a couple of dozen grape trees to cultivate a deep-space vineyard for the elite and refined palates of the world’s wealthiest wine lovers.

The scientists recorded readings through the Mars rover Curiosity of water that likely evaporates during the Martian day and forms again during the cold night as perchlorate salts melt any frozen water vapor.

This study, Martin-Torres suggested, may have implications for planetary protection policies. The Committee on Space Research may look carefully at places where spacecraft couldn’t land on Mars out of concern that any vehicle might contaminate the planet by introducing new organisms.

The presence of water speaks to us because it makes up more than 60 percent of our own bodies. Water also is a key element to life on our blue planet, raising the question about whether life, even in the form of small microbes, could use it to survive.

This Martian water, however, isn’t exactly a refreshing stream. It’s probably up to three-and-a-half times as salty as the water in the Dead Sea, Martin-Torres said.

The saltiness, radiation and numerous other factors make that water inhospitable to life, even on a microbial scale.

“The conditions are terrible,” admitted Martin-Torres. Still, “it’s better to have water than not to have it.” Besides, while it’s likely that any life on Mars would struggle to survive in that water, “nature always surprises us.”

by -
0 468

By Daniel Dunaief

What Hillary Clinton needs is a slogan. Now that she’s declared that she is, indeed, running for president, she needs to let the world know what she’s all about.

The problem is she’s spent the last quarter of a century in the public eye. How can someone who lost the presidential primary in 2008, whose husband’s peccadilloes provided endless fodder for the late-night TV hosts and whose every move, comment or speech let us know who she is and what she’s all about?

I have a few suggestions:

• “Campaign Clinton IV”: The first two were about Bill, the third one was a dress rehearsal and the fourth time is the real thing.
• “She’s nicer than you think”: That’s not hard to imagine. She doesn’t exactly come across as warm, fuzzy and relatable. She has the opposite public persona of her husband, whose charm and hospitality play so well on TV.
• “25 years in the making”: A woman who has written two autobiographies and who was the first lady for eight years may finally make it out of the primaries.
• “Long day’s journey into the White House”: Borrowing from Eugene O’Neill, Clinton has gone through many dramas, subplots and struggles on her way to running for the most important job in the land.
• “About Time”: Did you see that charming movie with this title with Rachel McAdams? This slogan could suggest it’s about time a woman became president. Then again, maybe if, like the movie, she could travel back in time, she’d change a few things.
• “Let the first family back in”: The Democrats seem to love her these days. Why not suggest that she and her biggest fan, largest supporter and No. 1 asset and liability, return to the White House together?
• “We’ll be back”: I know Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican, but wouldn’t it be cool if he introduced her campaign in his Austrian Terminator accent? (Or, perhaps, borrowing from “Jaws II”: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the White House again.”)
• “Interns need not apply”: OK, that’s a cheap shot.
• “The ultimate battle of the sexes”: Let’s see who runs the country better, a wife or her husband? We’ve had fathers and sons — the Adamses and the Bushes — and the Roosevelt cousins. How about we try a married couple?
• “Time for new revelations”: Every so often, it seems as if there’s a new revelation about the Clintons. Think about how many more revelations from staff members, former cooks and the U.S. Secret Service we might have if the Clintons once again occupy the White House?
• “The publishing business needs this”: Book publishing and publishing in general don’t seem to be as profitable as in the past. Bookstores are closing and small publishers are struggling to keep up with the endless space in the Internet. Surely a Clinton campaign and, possibly, a presidency would give new life to an industry that desperately needs a few more blockbuster political books before it finds the next Charles Dickens?
• “It’s time to watch late-night TV again”: “Saturday Night Live” and late-night talk show hosts must be cheering the possibility. They don’t even need to create new characters or find people who can look and act like the Clintons.
• “Grandma knows best”: Forget about her role as first lady, senator or secretary of state, who would dare argue with a grandma?

Let battle commence but it’s going to be a long, drawn-out affair. There are still 572 days to go, whatever the slogan.

by -
0 481

By Daniel Dunaief

Every defeat, rejection, or failure can be like a drop of ice water on the back of our necks. We often can’t brush those droplets away and they seep into us, weighing us down, causing our feet to shuffle and shoulders to slump.

The self-esteem bashing moments in a week, month, or year can build up, turning us into a balled-up, wet rag in the corner of a dark room.

Certainly, the sunlight and warmth of spring can dry some of that out, as the chirping of newly hatched birds, the sight of children chasing after a ball on a playground and the scent of fresh flowers can evaporate the dreaded droplets.

And yet, that’s often not enough. We sometimes need more to turn ourselves into ice-water-resistant creatures who can tackle any assignment, avoid obstacles, or remain undeterred in the face of significant opposition.

Where do we find this relief? Some get it from exercise, where they perspire out those metaphorical drops of ice water. As they push themselves along the pavement or across glistening fields, they generate momentum, release endorphins, and become like the Little Engine That Could, remembering that a healthy dose of believing in themselves works.

Others get it from talking on the phone, writing in a diary or a blog, escaping to the movies, diving into books, or sharing a laugh with friends they’ve known for years.

What we sometimes need in our lives is a catharsis. You remember that Greek word for that moment when someone releases strong emotions, obtaining relief at the same time? We learned about this some time when we were in middle or high school.

Recently, my middle school daughter received an assignment that seemed like a confusing and challenging juggling act. She finished George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” Her language arts teacher asked his students to find a song in which they saw an overlap with a theme from the book. They also had to relate that theme to their lives.

When my daughter came home from her first day of these presentations, she described in detail, how two of the four presenters broke down in tears as they shared their stories. In other classes, several students, including one of the untouchable “popular kids,” cried in front of his class as well. One of the students described his frustration with his frequent movement from one school to another as his parents’ jobs required starting over again every year or so. He looked out at the classroom, his teary eyes revealing his deep discomfort, and said he was sure no one in the room would be his friend for longer than the short time he’d be in town. He was resigned to the fact that he’d be a sad ghost someone might remember at graduation.

Another student shared the challenge of dealing with an impossible relative. This person pushed away any connection to a family she used to have, slamming the door, literally and physically, on anyone from her past who dared approach her. The disillusionment her father felt was magnified in her.

As my daughter thought of her assignment, her eyes welled up as well when she thought of the moment when something promising turned tragic. She had a spectacularly close connection with a young, vibrant first grade teacher whose life ended all too soon after a cancer diagnosis.

Even as my daughter described her feelings, I could see the small ice droplets that landed so hard on the back of her neck in elementary school, as they found an exit through her eyes. She will always remember that loss, but the catharsis more than five years later provided some relief.

by -
0 414

By Daniel Dunaief

I have a modest proposal: How about a new holiday, either in each school or in each town, every year? I’m not talking about taking any more time off from school or interrupting the flow of work, especially in a year when snow, ice and record-breaking blizzards that never happened upset our busy schedules. I’d like to suggest, rather, that we celebrate, recognize or mark the occasion for a different moment every year. We could create such a holiday some day in June, when classes are winding down and we’re just about to kick off the start of the summer.

Every year, Americans stop to recognize 9/11 in September. It’s a somber occasion and a chance to reflect on who we lost and what might have been. It’s also an opportunity to recognize the unimaginable bravery of those who did whatever they could to save strangers, friends and fellow New Yorkers and Americans.

Perhaps, one year, we might also recognize all the medical miracles that have made lives possible. I’ll never forget the day a colleague of mine at Bloomberg picked up the phone and his face went white. Seemingly unable to verbalize the terror in his mind, he grabbed his jacket and sprinted out of the room. His sudden and panicked motion created considerable concern from his colleagues.

As he told our editor the next morning in a barely audible voicemail, his wife went into premature labor and, less than an hour later, delivered a baby girl who weighed close to 1 pound.

For weeks, whenever he came to work, he seemed to look past us, searching for any kind of help, spiritual or otherwise, for his daughter’s fragile life. After several months, she grew enough to improve her prospects for survival. We knew things were getting better because we heard the welcome return of laughter from our friend. We also saw him exhale for the first time in months, loosening and relaxing the taut muscles in his chest.

Perhaps, one school might find the names of the doctors and scientists who improved the treatment and care for premature babies who had considerably poorer prognoses 50 or 100 years earlier.

We might also pause to recognize those working in fertility clinics or in reproductive research, who have made it possible for couples having trouble conceiving to celebrate the marvel of their child.

Maybe we could celebrate the considerable achievements of scientists who have helped prevent an HIV diagnosis from becoming a death sentence. When Magic Johnson revealed that he was HIV positive, many of us probably never imagined we’d see him cheering for his Michigan State basketball team to make it to the Final Four in 2015.

It is through remarkable medical breakthroughs, incredible dedication and a desire to defeat diseases like cancer and AIDS that we can extend the quantity and quality of our lives and the lives of our friends and family.

Some of these achievements and lifesaving discoveries wouldn’t have been possible without the insights and inspiration of scientists, researchers and doctors on Long Island.

Perhaps we can take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge the guiding hand and valuable contributions religious leaders make to us. Bringing us together and encouraging us through our battles elevates us when we’re down.

We see headlines about people who take lives and make poor decisions. Perhaps, we could use a day to recognize those who, to borrow a phrase from just about every political ad, truly “fight for us.” And maybe, by acknowledging these achievements, we inspire the next generation.

by -
0 410
Gunshots rang out in the night on March 11 in Huntington Station. The bullets from the gun of someone fleeing a traffic stop struck Suffolk Police Officer Mark Collins in the neck and hip, triggering an immediate reaction in a team of medical and emergency personnel with one goal: Do whatever can be done to keep Collins alive.

Seeing the injuries to Collins’ neck, the medics at the scene directed the injured officer to the Stony Brook Trauma Center, where the Code T Team — the highest level activated — was called in. Several medical professionals prepared for his arrival, including a board-certified general surgeon and an anesthesiologist, in case the officer needed emergency surgery. The center also held open an operating room and a CT scanner and had several other medical professionals, including a radiology technician, at the ready.

“We bring all the necessary resources to handle any array of injuries,” said Dr. James Vosswinkel, chief of Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at Stony Brook Medicine.

A gunshot wound to the neck “doesn’t sound good,” said Vosswinkel, who was home in East Setauket before the incident. When Collins came in, “we mobilized all the appropriate services.”

The prospect of such a serious injury raised concerns for their incoming patient.

Any time there is a Code T alert, “your blood pressure goes up a little bit,” Vosswinkel said. Still, he and the other members of the medical crew were prepared to follow a system that uses a “standard algorithmic approach” for injured patients, “where we have people come in and everybody knows their role.” The medical staff relies on a set of instructions that involve multiple people whose responsibilities range from stabilizing the patient to identifying injuries.

How does a surgeon who might be required to spend hours with a patient at any given time — and often late in the night, as was the case with this officer — prepare for the moment when he might ask his or her body and mind to focus on something unexpected?

Vosswinkel’s response, like those of the police who deal with emergency situations in our communities, was simple: training. Four years of medical school, five years of general surgery and then a few years of additional trauma training helped him prepare emotionally and physically.

The doctors also “try to keep ourselves in good shape with a healthy lifestyle and the necessary rest,” which gives them emotional and physical control. “You’re prepared when you’re on call,” he said. “The first priority” in an emergency is to “get a good enough team and good enough number of people together so you can handle the rigors that may be required.”

Vosswinkel said he does what many people who confront a high-stress situation do: He takes a slow deep breath, moves a step back and does whatever he can to remain focused and logical.

“Practicing in a hospital like this allows you to keep focus and keep your emotions in control,” he said.

The bullet in Collins’ neck was an inch away from a much more precarious outcome. The surgical team put him in a medically-induced coma. Standing behind Collins in a wheelchair as other officers saluted their wounded colleague, Vosswinkel brought Collins out of the hospital.

Vosswinkel said he and the staff were inspired by Collins’ dedication as a police officer and his contribution to the community.

“How could you not be inspired by someone like him?” Vosswinkel asked. “These guys are out there making it safe so something bad doesn’t happen to us.” And, when something bad happens to them, the trauma unit stands ready.

Social

9,204FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,119FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe