The news and photos of the shooting at the community center in San Bernardino have filled the media this week—a terrible tragedy in which 14 people lost their lives and 21 more were injured, some critically. This particular incident caught my personal attention in a special way because it happened right next door to one of our sister institutions in Adventist HealthCare, Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Personnel from LLUMC were among the first responders to the tragedy, and many of the victims were taken to their hospital. I understand that an impromptu area for triage was actually set up outside of the Emergency Department, and it became part of the operations center for law enforcement and other government agencies. The press coverage was abundant.

It was impossible to read or watch any of the news reports without thinking about what this all means to a community—and how a tragedy like this impacts so many lives. Perhaps because I know some of the healthcare professionals involved in responding to this tragedy, I could more readily visualize the impact such an event would have on us if it happened near one of our hospitals and we were called on to be the primary responder.

In contemplating how this impacts every aspect of a community—businesses on lockdown, schools on high alert, traffic in chaos—I realized how important our work and our institutions become in a crisis. At moments of highest stress we are much more than a collection of physicians and technicians and services and staff. Hospitals have the privilege—and the obligation—to be one of the places where the chaos stops, order returns, and healing begins.

This special role that we are given by the communities we serve should be both humbling and compelling to us. How can we not be humbled by knowing that at the moments of greatest need, whole communities turn to us and expect us to provide competent and compassionate leadership? And how can this expectation and obligation not motivate us to be the very best place, the best people, for our community to turn to in a crisis?

Our hearts are with the people of San Bernardino—and with all of the first responders: law enforcement, emergency response teams, healthcare personnel. When we think of those victimized by a tragedy like this, we are comforted to know that there are so many amazing people who are mobilized to help them.

As we pray for San Bernardino following this shooting, let us also be mindful of our own calling, and respond to God’s grace and leading. In every situation we seek to fulfill our mission of providing excellent care—and being a place of stability and hope for those we are privileged to serve.