Las Vegas Hospitals Inundated with Victims from Mass Shooting
Local hospitals had to call in hundreds of additional staff to help treat the wounded who were lined up in hallways and outside.
Hospitals across the Las Vegas area were swarmed with victims following Sunday’s devastating mass shooting, the deadliest in modern U.S. history.
Fifty-nine people have died and 527 were injured after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on 20,000 attendees at a country music festival from his room on the 32nd-floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel. Paddock broke two windows to create sniper’s perches.
“I have no idea who I operated on,” says Dr. Jay Coates, a trauma surgeon at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. “We started divvying them up, taking them to the operating room and doing what’s called ‘damage control surgery,’ where you’re not definitively repairing everything. You are just stopping the dying.”
Coates says every bed was full while others waited in hallways and outside, according to AP News.
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center treated 180 people, including 124 for gunshot wounds. It is the closest hospital to the site of the shooting and is a Level 2 trauma center.
Dr. Jeffery Murawsky, Sunrise Hospital’s chief medical officer, says 100 extra doctors were called into work Sunday night in addition to another 100 staffers including nurses, technicians and support staff.
“We have a relatively large emergency department. We were able to triage within our emergency department,” says Murawsky. “We used the hallway space to see patients, so it’s a lot fuller than it normally would be and it feels a lot more chaotic.”
St. Rose Dominican Hospital in nearby Henderson treated 58 patients, five of whom remain in critical condition, says spokeswoman Jennifer Cooper.
Hospital Training for Mass Casualties
In July, UMC hosted a mass casualty training session that drew first responders from around the area.
Spokeswoman Cohen says as part of the event, UMC staff discussed the Orlando nightclub shooting with medical staff who treated victims.
“We were able to use that today,” says Cohen.
Toni Mullan, a nurse at UMC, says UMC and other Vegas-area hospitals have dealt with two other mass casualty events in the last two years — one involving a school bus crash and another involving a woman who drove up on a sidewalk on the Las Vegas Strip.
“I had the CEO [of the hospital] handing out blankets,” says Mullan of the sidewalk crash. “Our marketing people were handling crowd control. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.”
In an interview with CNBC, Dr. Gina Piazza, a physician who works in Augusta, Georgia, says since the 9/11 attacks, hospital preparedness for mass casualties has only been increasing.
“And because no one hospital can necessarily handle the extreme number of casualties as seen last night, we have to prepare as regions,” says Piazza.
In addition to running drills internally, Piazza says groups of hospitals in geographic areas now run drills to simulate mass casualties and how the region would handle it.
UMC trauma surgeon Dr. John Fildes says his team participates in two major disaster drills each year and conducts other internal drills as well.
“We’ve actually drilled in the past on a concert venue, we’ve drilled on a plane crash,” says Fildes. “We trained on this. And it just went off perfectly, on our side. I feel bad for the people that were hurt — I really do. But I’m glad we could help.”
Officials are asking that blood donations be made only to facilities operated by United Blood Services or directly at the University Medical Center.
There was a six-hour-long line at the United Blood Services on Monday. Enough people have signed up to donate blood through next Monday.
Laura Alvarado, a donor recruitment representative with UBS, says the donation response was unlike anything she’s seen in 11 years on the job.
“All these people, all they want to do is help,” says Alvarado. “But we need to keep the momentum going.”