At 9:30 a.m. last Dec. 14, a fateful phone call interrupted the day off for Newtown, Conn., pediatrician Laura Nowacki, M.D., FAAP.

It was her office nurse calling to say a shooting just occurred at Dr. Nowacki’s daughter’s school. They needed to triage.

Although emergency calls began going out all over town, parents couldn’t have realized the magnitude of those alerts in the quiet, tight-knit community. Dr. Nowacki grabbed her keys and made her way to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I got about a half mile from the school and couldn’t get any closer. It was just crazy — police cars, fire engines, cars everywhere. So I sprinted that last half mile and came to the firehouse. A police officer stopped me and said the kids are coming out to the firehouse. So I went in there first, and my daughter stood out among all these kids squished in...

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