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SIEGE SURVIVORS EMOTIONALLY SCARRED

Friends tell Susan Woolley she hasn't been the same since being held hostage for 18 hours last September at Alta View Hospital.

She can only agree. Woolley says she has been emotionally scarred by the incident."I'll never be that person again," Woolley said.

Woolley, a registered nurse, was shift coordinator for the Women's Center early Sept. 21, when Richard Worthington stormed the hospital with an arsenal of weapons and explosives. A nurse was shot dead, and eight others - including three babies - were held hostage.

During the crisis, Woolley was calm and collected, cool as could be under incredible pressure, say law-enforcement officials and other hostages.

She was the closest witness to the shooting death of nurse Karla Roth - and she supervised the birth of a hostage's baby.

But once released, she crumbled as insecurity and emotional instability replaced her assertiveness and leadership.

"I thought I was literally going crazy. I couldn't say seven words together. Sometimes the words would come out backward, or in the wrong order. There were times I couldn't stop crying. Other times, I felt emotionally numb," Woolley remembered.

Woolley has been unable to return to her job for fear she couldn't respond appropriately in another life-threatening situation.

"That's a horrible feeling. I've been a professional for 30 years, during which I've been in a lot of tense situations. I've always felt I could control at least myself," she said.

"Now I know what it cost me and I'm not sure I could do it again. I can't subject a patient - or victimize a patient - with my insecurities," Woolley added.

Others involved in the hospital standoff also report varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Alta View Hospital owner Intermountain Health Care asked Dr. Frank Ochberg, a PTSD expert from Michigan State University, to come to Utah in November to meet with hospital staff, hostages and their families.

Ochberg assured those he met with that the disorder was a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

"It was a definite turning point for us. It was a light at the end of the tunnel," said Jodi Scott, who returned almost two months ago to her job in emergency admitting at Alta View Hospital.

Scott had just finished her late-night shift and was walking to her car when she surprised Worthington in the parking lot. She watched as the gunman stormed through one of the windows of the Women's Center.

Scott ran to the emergency room to warn others and call police. She stayed the remaining 18 hours, assisting other staff members in hiding hospital patients until they could be evacuated.

Law-enforcement officials knew that Worthington had in his possession enough explosives to level a half-block area.

Since the episode, Scott has suffered panic attacks, insomnia, paranoia, a hypersensitivity to sounds, and hypervigilance - an initial distrust of unfamiliar people.

"I've had several people tell me I'm not the same person. They prefer to blame it on the medications I'm taking rather than on the disorder itself. People don't want to accept the permanence," she said.