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Henry Ford staff demonstrates how hospitals prepare for mass shootings

Level I trauma center has plan in place for emergency situations

DETROIT – The number of people killed and injured in the Las Vegas shooting was staggering. So how did the University Medical Center in Nevada handle the incident?

The University Medical Center is Nevada's only Level I trauma center, but it turns out all trauma centers prepare for tragedies such as the one in Vegas.

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit is a level one hospital, so the reality is they have to be ready for extreme situations. Staff members said they do drills to make sure they're ready, and they've done around 20 over the last few years.

Doctors are always prepared for the worst, but Trauma Director Jeffrey Johnson said he's actually experienced the worst as a doctor in Colorado.

"At the Columbine High School, I took care of a couple patients with that, and as well as the Aurora theater shooting," Johnson said.

When he heard about the tragedy in Las Vegas, Johnson said it made him consider how Henry Ford Hospital should prepare.

"I thought about what we need to do here in Detroit to be ready for an event like this," Johnson said.

How can a hospital prepare for such a large number of injuries at once?

"We conduct a number of exercises every year," said John Snider, the emergency preparedness coordinator at Henry Ford.

Snider said they created a fluid plan for emergencies.

"At Henry Ford, our first thing will be to get the most information we can," Snider said. "(Then) we'll begin forming teams of nurses, scrub techs, surgeons and anesthesiologists, so before we get any patients at all, we already have those teams in place."

They also have a plan in place for communication.

"We have the overhead paging system," Johnson said. "We have the reverse 911, which can be utilized, and we have other pagers as well."

Johnson said doctors have to be able to separate their emotions in hectic situations.

"You have to continue to care for the people that you're taking care of, and you need to limit your emotions a little bit," Johnson said. "You have to sometimes make very hard decisions about what goes first and what goes second."

While the hospital staff at Henry Ford hopes to never experience a mass casualty event in Metro Detroit, they're ready for the worst-case scenario.

Johnson and his team spoke about how there's a push to educate people on how to use tourniquets, so they provided a demonstration on how to use one in an emergency situation. You can watch the full video below:


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