October 18, 2017

Dr. Stephanie Streit ’02 on the front lines of trauma care in Las Vegas

It was 11 o’clock at night in Las Vegas and Dr. Stephanie Streit was ready to go to bed.

She was checking her twitter feed, and noticed a couple of tweets about shootings on the Strip. The U.S. Air Force major told her husband she thought she should probably head for the hospital.

That was the start of a long night and day for Streit, a 2002 Badin High School graduate and trauma surgeon at the only Level I trauma center in Las Vegas, University Medical Center.

“It was controlled chaos,” Streit said during a visit to Badin High on Tuesday. “I walked in and there were people everywhere. I just kept going up to patients and saying, ‘Who are you and where are your holes?’”

Streit had immediately volunteered to take charge of the hospital’s overflow area in what on normal days is the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Here, patients had been sent who had been “triaged” and, though wounded, determined not to be in a life-threatening situation.

“I probably did my last operation at 6:30 in the morning,” Streit said. “I walked out of the operating room and there was the governor of Nevada. And then a few minutes later we walked outside to a beautiful Nevada morning, and there were a thousand cameras waiting for us.

“All the cameras – that’s not something anybody prepares you for.”

Gunman Stephen Paddock, firing from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, had killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 before taking his own life. Seven Las Vegas hospitals handled the shootings, with more than 100 victims being brought to the University Medical Center.

While she may not have been ready for the cameras, Streit noted that the Las Vegas carnage was in fact something she had spent years training for.

“Every trauma surgeon wonders what they would do in a situation like this,” Streit said. “Until a mass casualty event happens, nobody really knows how they will respond. You always wonder, am I good enough?

“After this night, I sort of stopped, exhaled, and said yes, I can do this,” she added. “If anything positive came out of this misery for me as an individual, it’s the knowledge that I can do the job, that I have what it takes, that I can be there to help try to make things better.”

And that is exactly where Streit’s Air Force career could potentially take her – into a military deployment situation as a trauma surgeon.

The daughter of Don and Monica Streit of Hamilton, Streit was a senior at Badin High on Sept. 11, 2001, and determined on that day that she would join the military.

“9/11 had a really big impact on me,” she nodded. “I felt really helpless, like a lot of people did that day.”

She had wanted to be a doctor since her Catholic grade school days in Hamilton, and as a freshman at Miami University, was able to test into one of 10 medical school slots at the University of Cincinnati that were then reserved for Miami students.

Prior to her medical school enrollment, Streit was awarded a Health Professions Scholarship from the United States Air Force – which then paid for her U.C. medical training in exchange for an Air Force service commitment.

She spent five years doing her residency at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, including a year as chief resident, and recently finished a two-year trauma and critical care fellowship back at the University of Cincinnati.

Streit, married for three years to Dr. Erek Majka, is attached to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. The Air Force and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas have a partnership through the University Medical Center.

She has a six-year commitment to the Air Force that started with her Las Vegas assignment three months ago … this after 11 years of schooling following college.

“I like to fix people,” Streit said when asked by Badin students about her “favorite” surgery. “I don’t care how I do it.”

Her Badin High career was certainly memorable as she was a standout in theatre, in faith life leadership, as a softball catcher not afraid to get dirty, and as a 5-foot-2 goaltender on the girls’ soccer team that finished as the Division II state runner-up during her junior year in 2000.

“All the things at Badin were building blocks on becoming who I wanted to be,” Streit said in looking back. “Now all the teen angst is gone, and there are probably 15 people from Badin who I’m in touch with all the time. That’s pretty neat.”

She’s looking forward now, and calls her current responsibilities “super-dooper fun.”

“Sometimes you think, is there another job that I could be doing and still be happy?” Streit said to the Physiology II class at Badin. “Even in the darkest times, my answer to that is no.”

On that grim Monday in Las Vegas earlier this month, Streit went home at noon, gave her husband a hug as he prepared to leave on a doctor’s retreat, took a shower, then went right back to the hospital. She finally called it a day at 9:30 p.m., and notes that of all those shot or trampled in the chaos and brought to University Medical Center – if they could survive their wounds, they did.

Contact: Dirk Q. Allen, (513) 863-3993, ext. 120; Dallen@BadinHS.org

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