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S.A. REID; Staff
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When two Atlanta police officers were rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital's emergency room after a shooting earlier this month, surgeon Jeffrey Salomone joined police officials at a news conference to describe the officers' wounds.
His diagnosis was the injuries were not life-threatening.
It was a positive outcome to a stressful day for both the Atlanta Police Department and Salomone, who specializes in tending to injured officers as the APD's "police surgeon."
"It's always great to have good news," he said in an interview later.
Living out the "Emergency" TV show dreams of his childhood, Salomone has been the go-to doc for city cops injured in the line of duty for nearly 11 years.
A general and trauma surgeon on Grady's staff, Salomone makes himself available for APD emergencies 24/7/365. He handles about 150 a year.
"When people think of injured officers they think about [a] shooting ..." said Salomone, who also teaches surgery at Emory Medical School and has colleagues fill in during the rare times he's unavailable for police cases. "There are many other types of injuries they come in with. The vast majority are minor."
But he's seen six officers die.
The most recent was Officer Peter William Faatz, killed in a 2006 when his police car collided with an ambulance on the way to a shooting call. Faatz, 29, was on life support for nearly two weeks before Salomone had to tell relatives modern medicine had done all it could.
"That's always a very emotional time," he said. "[There's] also gratification in knowing you've done everything you can and you've done your job with compassion."
Martha Sikes, Faatz's sister, will never forget Salomone's support during her brother's final moments.
"He was just so kind," said Sikes, a physician assistant and pharmacist. "He cried with us."
Salomone's first life-threatening case involved Officer Patricia Cocciolone, shot multiple times in October 1997. After being in a coma and enduring surgeries and rehabilitation, she remains permanently disabled. Partner John Richard Sowa was killed.
Salomone, 46, took on the special detail with then-police Chief Beverly Harvard's approval in September 1997, during his second year at Grady. The arrangement continues under Chief Richard Pennington. Salomone's services come at no additional cost to the department. He juggles it with his regular duties.
Salomone credits Dr. Norman McSwain, a mentor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, with planting the seed. McSwain has been police surgeon for decades in New Orleans.
"I told him he needed to do that job when he got to Atlanta," McSwain said. "Nobody cares about cops. They always get a bad rap. Someone has to look out for them."
Salomone works overtime to prove he's got their back. Visiting and teaching at police academy classes, attending graduations, going on ride-alongs and visiting zone offices make him a familiar name and face.
"It's just an opportunity for them to see me and know me before they are ever injured ..." he said.
The role has led to many friendships.
Salomone counts 11-year police veteran Officer Darren Baumann among his closest APD buddies. The two met at the academy, and Baumann has let Salomone tag along a time or two on assignments.
"He didn't realize how dangerous things could be for us," Baumann said. "I think I might have scared him a little bit with how I was driving."
Cocciolone still considers Salomone a "brother." He surprised her by showing up at her 40th birthday party.
"He seems like he really cares about every one of us," said Cocciolone, who struggles to speak clearly but stays connected to Salomone via e-mail. "I've told my friends and family this guy is my angel."
Salomone occasionally deals with cases involving police from other jurisdictions, but his loyalty is to the Atlanta force.
An exception was the 2005 Fulton County Courthouse shootings. He was part of the team of doctors that pronounced one deputy dead and cared for a second injured deputy.
"It's not just the uniform," Salomone said. "But it's the city of Atlanta police uniform I make the connection with."
Growing up in Nevada, Salomone was a big fan of the 1970s TV show "Emergency," whose storyline centered on the heroics of first-responders with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He took emergency medical technician courses in high school and worked as an EMT in college.
The experience put him in contact with cops and firefighters and convinced him to follow an older brother into indoor medicine.
"It doesn't rain in the hospital. There isn't broken glass all over where you are trying to work. There aren't hazardous materials," noted Salomone.
After medical school, Salomone signed on with Emory University and Grady, drawn by a bustling city, a highly regarded medical school and a health facility that handles a high volume of trauma cases.
Salomone said doctors and cops both deal with some of the best and worst in society.
"If I was 20 years younger, I'd think about going to police academy just for the experience," he said. "I've got tremendous respect for them and what these guys do."

THE COPS' DOC
*
* Age: 46
* Residence: Atlanta
* Employment: Emory University Medical School Department of Surgery
* Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Nevada; graduate work, Duke University; medical degree, University of Nevada; general surgery internship, residency, surgical critical care fellowship, Tulane University School of Medicine
* Honors: 2007 "Physician Healthcare Hero of the Year," Atlanta Business Chronicle; 2003 "Citizen of the Year," Atlanta Police Foundation

Story From: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
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