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Del Quentin Wilber

Doctors at George Washington University Hospital, the closest hospital to the White House, knew that the President of the United States might one day enter their doors. When the direct phone line from the White House began to ring, the staff immediately knew that this was not a drill. Meet the staff that jumped into action to save President Reagan’s life.

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Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber - Photo of Dr. Joseph Giordano

Dr. Joseph Giordano

Joe Giordano never intended to become a trauma surgeon. But soon after arriving at George Washington University Hospital, the vascular specialist was instructed by his boss to overhaul the treatment of trauma patients, and in 1979 GW was certified as a level-1 trauma center. Just two years later, Giordano’s efforts—such as establishing trauma protocols and ensuring that his surgeons and nurses received the most up-to-date training—played a key role in saving Ronald Reagan’s life.

Listen to an interview with Dr. Joseph Giordano:

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Watch an interview with Dr. Joseph Giordano:


Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber - Photo of Dr. Benjamin Aaron

Dr. Benjamin Aaron

A surgeon in the U.S. Navy for twenty–two years, Dr. Aaron was head of GW’s cardiovascular and thoracic unit at the time of Reagan’s assassination attempt. Aaron ultimately made the decision to operate on President Reagan when the bleeding from Reagan’s chest would not stop.

 

 



Kathy Paul

Paul was a 27-year-old nurse in the GW emergency room when Reagan arrived and then collapsed on his way to the trauma bay. Her hands shook as she stripped off his clothes; Reagan appeared to be in such bad shape that Paul was worried he was not going to survive.

Watch an interview with Nurse Kathy Paul:

Listen to an interview with Nurse Kathy Paul:

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Marisa Mize

When Mize showed up for work as a nurse in the GW hospital recovery room at 11 p.m. March 30, 1981, she discovered she had only one patient: the president. She spent much of the night talking with and comforting the president as he jotted notes to the nursing staff and was impressed by Reagan’s humor and modesty.

Listen to an interview with Nurse Marisa Mize:

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Photographs

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President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, were photographed in the hallway of George Washington University Hospital on April 3, 1981, four days after the assassination attempt. The president still had a drainage tube in his chest and was clearly favoring his left side. (Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

The flattened .22-caliber Devastator bullet extracted from President Reagan’s chest.

Medical illustration of the damage to Ronald Reagan.

Medical illustration of the damage to Ronald Reagan.


Documents

Ronald Reagan’s Admission
Form to GWU Hospital

Ronald Reagan’s admission form to George Washington University Hospital.

Michael Deaver’s Statement
to Richard Darman

Michael Deaver's statement to Richard Darman