LAFAYETTE, La. — Mass shootings in this country have created a sad fraternity of sorts among emergency room personnel who are forced to deal with the tragic outcomes of gun violence.

How can they reach out and offer comfort to one another? It often comes in the form of pizza.

As doctors and nurses at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., worked to care for the victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting Thursday, they received an unexpected delivery of pizzas.

Ten came from the staff of the Lafayette General Medical Center, sent as a token of support and solidarity.

In July, Lafayette General was itself treating multiple shooting victims after a gunman opened fire in a movie theater, killing two people and injuring nine more before turning the gun on himself.

As doctors and nurses at LGMC worked to save victims, they received pizzas from a Texas hospital.

“We just wanted to pay it forward,” LGMC spokesman Daryl Cetnar said. “We received pizza from a hospital in Waco, Texas, after the shootings here, and we were in awe of the gesture. We were hoping to never have to pay it forward.

“But our emergency department thought now was a good time to pay it forward. We wanted to let them know that we were thinking about them and praying for their community. We just sent it as a gesture of goodwill in their time of need.”

In May, White Medical Center in Waco treated dozens of gunshot victims after a biker fight broke out, leaving nine dead.

A nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg said workers there received pizzas from several hospitals Thursday.

“Our ER received comfort and support from various hospitals across the country (last I heard was from Georgia, Louisiana, Colorado, Connecticut) who have unfortunately had their own experiences with this kind of violence.

“It’s so sad that we seem to have joined an exclusive club no one should ever become a member of.”

It may seem like a small gesture, but it’s meaningful to those involved.

“All too often people seem to forget how difficult it is for the first responders,” she said. “Not only do we grieve alongside the victims and their families, but we don’t always have people around us who can understand what it is we’re going through.

“I think that’s why it means so very much to us when other communities who have experienced similar horrors reach out to us. They remind us they got through it, we are not alone, and we can recover like they have.”

Contributing: Kris Wartelle of The Daily Advertiser

Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1LaLvSr