Pittsburgh Physician And First-Responder In Tree Of Life Shooting Wins ‘Everyday Hero’ Award

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2019

FOR RELEASE March 25, 2019
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Keith Murray, MD, an emergency medicine physician in Pittsburgh, has been named March’s Everyday Hero by the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED).
PAMED’s Everyday Hero Award is designed to showcase talented physicians who probably don’t view themselves as heroes, but to patients and colleagues they are. The award is a monthly member honor.
Dr. Murray was part of a team that responded to an active shooter incident at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood in October 2018. The shooter killed 11 people.
Other worshippers were saved by the bravery of first-responders, including Dr. Murray, as well as the trauma team at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Mercy, where the injured were transported.
Dr. Murray doesn’t hesitate when asked why he chose his specialty. “You can directly impact someone’s life in a short period of time,” he said.
The fast pace of emergency medicine also drew Dr. Murray to the field. He’s a high-energy person who is eager to challenge himself through new experiences.
While training at the University of Chicago, Dr. Murray made a connection – with the help of his wife, surgeon Jennifer Holder-Murray, MD – that would shape the direction of his career. 
His wife was completing a trauma rotation in Chicago, and she saw how important a role the police played in stabilizing patients before they could be treated at the hospital.
She realized her husband would enjoy working with law enforcement and introduced him to Dr. Andrew Dennis, a trauma surgeon at Chicago’s Cook County hospital as well as a police officer. That’s how Dr. Murray’s work with police SWAT teams – units specially trained to handle critical threats to public safety – began.
After Dr. Murray and his wife moved to the Pittsburgh area, he found new opportunities to work with law enforcement. He now serves as medical director for two SWAT teams in Pittsburgh. The teams typically train 16-24 hours per month. “We try to make it as realistic and tough as possible,” Dr. Murray said.
Dr. Murray told said training and preparation play a major part in his role as a physician in the emergency department at UPMC Mercy. He typically works three to four shifts a week there.
Each week, Dr. Murray’s team at the hospital conducts a tabletop exercise that allows them to talk through what they would do during a specific emergency scenario. And, around twice a year, they conduct mass casualty drills to measure their preparedness.
Patients and medical colleagues can nominate PAMED member physicians for this award at www.pamedsoc.org/EverydayHero.
Media Contact
Jeff Wirick, Pennsylvania Medical Society
Office: 717-909-2651
About Pennsylvania Medical Society
The Pennsylvania Medical Society helps its 21,000 physician and medical student members return to the art of medicine through advocacy and education. To learn more, visit www.pamedsoc.org or follow us on Twitter at @PAMEDSociety.

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