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Honoring Penn's trauma unit

May 26, 2009 3:47:15 PM PDT
The trauma program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine honored some of their own professional staffers today, but spent most of their time celebrating many of the patients who survived after being brought there in grave condition.Philadelphia Police officer Richard Decoatesworth was the key speaker. Decoatesworth was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania two years ago after sustaining a shotgun blast to the face.

"If I'm ever shot again, I'm hoping it's in West Philly, I tell you that right now, or they can use one of those helicopters to transport me here," Decoatesworth said.

Ironically, a month ago Officer Decoatesworth shot and fatally wounded a suspect during an encounter; he is back on street duty, even though the case is still being reviewed by the district attorney.

"[I] defended my life. My life was threatened," Decoatesworth said.

Joining Decoatesworth for honors today was Bill Steinsieck of Hatfield. He was airlifted to Penn back in spring of 2000.

"I was in a motorcycle accident. I tried to tangle with a tractor trailer and he won," Steinsieck said.

Steinsieck spent two months at Penn recovering from that accident. Many surgeries and many years later, he still considers Penn hallowed ground and hails those trauma specialists who saved his life.

"I come back to honor these fine folks and the work that they do cause I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them," Steinsieck said.

There were also honors for Ryan Spess. Spess was in motor vehicle accident two-and-a-half years ago. He spent 37 days in a coma at Penn fighting back from serious brain injury. He is still in rehab, but making progress.

"It's the best thing ever," Spess said.

Penn's trauma center, aka the emergency room, is in a crisis mode 24/7.

Some 2,500 cases come through here every year and that is its purpose and the mission of those who staff it.

Penn has one of the best in the country and. for that, so many people give thanks.

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