UC Health’s West Chester Hospital in West Chester Twp. The hospital is a level-three trauma center. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

Local hospital system prepares for mass disasters

The doctors staffing trauma centers and emergency rooms in Butler County and Greater Cincinnati took note of Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas and checked their own plans.

The University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are the region’s level-one trauma centers, designed to handle any sort of case day or night. But the Las Vegas shooting took things to a new level, doctors said.

“It’s scary because it can happen anywhere,” said Dr. Kenneth Davis Jr., UC professor of surgery.

MORE: How Butler County police agencies train for mass shootings

UC Health’s West Chester Hospital and TriHealth’s Bethesda North Hospital are level-three trauma centers. Doctors and surgeons quickly mobilize when they get word of a mass casualty case.

”If we know in advance that we need certain specialists, we can call them. They’re in house — they can be there on a moment’s notice or be there when the patient arrives,” Davis said.

All hospitals work together in a mass casualty incident, Dr. D. Millar of UC Health said: Trauma is “a team sport.”

“We require emergency medicine surgeons, trauma surgeons, the full might and power of any hospital facility with emergency rooms, recovery, nursing staff,” Millar said.

MORE: Las Vegas shooting: What we’re learning today

And, like the first responders bringing patients to the hospitals, doctors run drills, too.

“We’ll train and we create protocols that will allow us to surge beyond our normal capacity to be able to handle something like this,” Millar said.

UC Medical Center was in the center of a mass casualty incident about six months ago, after the Cameo Night Club shooting.

“We spend quite a bit of time each year going through disaster training with our emergency physicians,” said Dr. Dustin Calhoun, medical director for emergency management and a physician with UC Health. “We don’t always focus every year on active shooters as we try to take an all hazards approach.”

MORE: Las Vegas shooting: Area couple on same floor as gunman

Ryan Burke, emergency management officer for West Chester Hospital, told the Journal-News that communication is important during a mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas.

“One of the first key pieces of training we do involves communications because usually communications in general is usually one of the first things that begins to fail,” Burke said.“One of the critical points in an emergency like Vegas is the field communicating to the hospital and the hospital communicating back to the field.”

Such communication can help logistically in deciding where to send patients so one hospital doesn’t get overloadeded.

MORE: Las Vegas shooting: Remembering the victims

Also, with the possibility of misinformation inundating social media, getting the right information to first responders and the public is important during a mass shooting or catastrophic event according to Burke.

“Social media can be a good friend and a good tool, but it can also lead to confusion or chaos when misinformation is put out there,” Burke said. “We monitor some of the misinformation to see what’s out there and find it is critical to work with our communications team to get the correct information out there.”

Tom McKee, a reporter for Journal-News media partner WCPO, contributed to this report.

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