BALTIMORE - He was a fixture in Baltimore news for three decades and you see him every weekend on Square Off on ABC2. Richard Sher covered the heartwarming stories during his time as a TV reported, but he also covered crime and violence that would put him live outside Shock Trauma. Now we've learned he takes on a different mission, inside that hospital.
When crisis strikes at Baltimore’s Shock Trauma, it can almost feel like time is standing still. The moments pass in a haze with voices and faces so blurred some patients might feel like they're imagining things when they finally come to. Volunteer Aimee Schafer says, "It's very funny. Sometimes they double take and they'll call somebody else in. They call me in and say, ‘Is that Richard Sher?’"
But as they shake the fog, the face they watched for years comes into focus.
With that white hair Richard Sher is unmistakable. Still patients are understandably confused to find him holding their hand or fetching their blankets because they're used to seeing Sher on television, not the trauma floor. Nurse Manager Terry Dinardo tells ABC2, "No matter how many times he's been in front of the camera, it doesn't impact his ability to be a huge human being at the bedside."
But every Tuesday, that's where you'll find him. Sher walks the halls here at Shock Trauma, not trolling for a story, but reporting for his shift as a volunteer. It’s something he's been doing since retiring from TV news. Sher jokes, "I haven't lost a patient yet, I swear."
The sense of humor that made Sher a household name in Baltimore is unchanged, even on this floor, where so often the situations are dire.
Richard is here to lighten to mood and the hearts of people who have unexpectedly become a worst case scenario. He says, "Every person in here today woke up this morning and thought they were going to have a regular day just like you and me, just like everybody else. Life changes in a millisecond."
And when it does, the Shock Trauma team, Sher included, scrambles into action. His reporter instincts kick in like he's chasing the lead story again when an alarm sounds indicating there’s an incoming patient.
With the adrenaline pumping, details are gathered, with bits and pieces placed on a central message board so the staff is prepared when the patient finally arrives. Richard and the other volunteers then do the grunt work to make sure the team is ready. From stocking shelves to straightening beds, it is a far cry from the glamorous days spent chatting next to Oprah. But Sher’s co-workers say there’s nothing diva about his behavior. William Parker says, "When I first saw him I thought, I guess he's a celebrity of some sort, he's going to come in here, whatever. Next thing you know, he's in the mix of it."
In moments of crisis, Sher is in the thick of things. He is one face in a crowd, facing down tragedy in all its forms. He says, “People say how can you stand looking at all that blood and all that bad stuff. But you know what? I saw that all when I was on the street."
And though once he stood outside this hospital, delivering the evening news, Sher now stands with the front line, picking up where those stories left off. He is no longer an observer as the details of life and death play out right in front of him. When a State Police helicopter brings in the latest patient, Richard is there. He is the hand that guides and the friendly voice that calms as doctors and nurses get to work and he gets out of the way.
But coming here to Shock Trauma, Sher knows patients have the odds on their side. The reputation of this place is even bigger than the one that made him famous in Baltimore. Sher says, "They’re the most dedicated people in the world. They will give one billion percent to try and save your life. That's all they care about here is saving your life." They’re saving lives, while giving an old storyteller a chance to start a new chapter in his own life.
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