Loma Linda Medical Staff Recognized
for Helping Deputy Injured in Shootout

(Posted September 11, 2013)

BY BRIANA PASTORINO, media relations specialist, Loma Linda University Medical Center, reporting from San Bernardino, California

The sensational case of a former Los Angeles Police Department officer whose grudge over being fired led to three murders and a six-day manhunt had another human impact: suspect Christopher Dorner, who died in a February 12 confrontation with law enforcement, shot and wounded San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Alex Collins, whose partner, Michael Crain, was killed in the encounter.

Now, nearly six months after the tragedy, Collins and his wife, Lila, recognized a team of physicians and nurses from Loma Linda University Medical Center during the captain’s meeting at the Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday, August 7, 2013. Sheriff John McMahon, along with the department’s captains, sergeants, lieutenants, and a handful of deputies, as well as Deputy Collins’ family, filled the conference room. 

“Everyone in this packed room has affected me in my recovery in some way,” Collins said, flaunting his full uniform for one of the first times since the deadly shootout that occurred in Big Bear. “I can never repay everyone for all that was done for me, and these awards are just a small token of my appreciation.” 

Collins appeared physically unaffected by the wounds that had impaired him. He attributes his recovery to the skilled team of physicians and nurses who immediately took action.

LIFESAVING WORK:  Deputy Alex Collins and his wife, Lila, shared a special moment with his clinical care team from LLUMC during the captain’s meeting at San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday, August 7. From left to right: Dr. Alan Herford, Michael May, Dr. Lorra Sharp, Deputy Alex Collins, Lila Collins, Connie Cunningham, Dr. Saif Zaman, and Sheriff John McMahon.  [PHOTO: LLUMC]
Dr. Lorra Sharp, an orthopedic trauma surgeon, treated injuries that affected Collins’ left leg. “Dr. Sharp put my family at ease when I was first brought in,” Collins said. “She took this personally, and I am walking because of her.” 

Dr. Saif Zaman, an orthopedic surgery resident, monitored Collins’ leg injury during his stay at the hospital. “My wife must have asked him a thousand questions, and he did his best to answer every single one,” Collins said. 

During the shootout with Dorner, Collins suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his face. Although serious at the time, Collins made light of the injury, saying, “Thanks to Dr. Herford, I think I look better now than before I got shot.” He was referring to Dr. Alan Herford, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon who gave Collins the ability to smile again. “Thank you so much for the awesome work you and your team have done,” Collins said. 

A special thank-you was given to Connie Cunningham, executive director of LLUMC Emergency Department, and Michael May, adult trauma coordinator for LLUMC. “Connie and Michael were some of the first people I encountered at the hospital, and I still talk to them on a regular basis,” Lila Collins said. “Connie set me up with everything I needed at the hospital, including a crib for our son.” Benjamin Collins was just 3 weeks old at the time of the incident. “Connie even came and did a walk-through at our house and helped prepare us for Alex’s homecoming,” she added. 

“We hope and pray that our paths never cross with the brave men and women of law enforcement [in this manner],” Cunningham said after the event. “But if they do, we will always be there and give nothing but the best care we can provide. Alex was out there serving and protecting us when he got injured, and it is our job to get him back in his uniform so he can continue to do his job. He is a true hero, and it was an honor to be part of his care and recovery.” 
Collins, who is expected to return to work in September, and his wife extended their gratitude to everyone at LLUMC who had—and continue to have—a hand in his recovery. “There are countless nurses and hospital staff that went above and beyond their call of duty to make our experience what it was and what it continues to be. We are forever grateful to each and every one of you, and you will always hold a special place in our hearts,” he said.

                                                                                                                                             —with Adventist Review staff



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