University Health's Level 1 Trauma Center stands ready for mass shootings

University Health's Level 1 Trauma Center stands ready for mass shootings

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - After America's worst mass shooting in history on Sunday night, the Level 1 Trauma Center in Las Vegas was overrun with patients.

Shreveport's Level 1 Trauma Center is inside University Health Hospital and the fact that nearly 60 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured sent shock waves all the way to Louisiana.

"Till it happens, you have to organize. You are going to be overwhelmed and taxed at the time," said University Health Safety Office Director Donell Chagnard.

"My thought was that it's going to overwhelm the system," said University Health Trauma Surgeon Dr. Thomas Wertin.

For Wertin, the idea of those many victims flooding a hospital reminds him of what he saw over 24 years in the military.

"I've operated in Baghdad during the Surge where we were getting 20 some-odd people every day. When you have that happen, it overwhelms the system," he said.

Should such a tragedy happen in Shreveport, University Health is home to the only Level 1 Trauma Center from here to New Orleans.

Unlike other centers, this 54-bed hub holds everything a trauma patient needs under one roof, 24 hours a day.

According to the American Trauma Society, a Level 1 Trauma Center must include:

•    24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons, and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care. 
•    Referral resource for communities in nearby regions.
•    Provides leadership in prevention, public education to surrounding communities.
•    Provides continuing education of the trauma team members.
•    Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program.
•    Operates an organized teaching and research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care.
•    Program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention.
•    Meets minimum requirement for annual volume of severely injured patients.

"All the capabilities to operate on any patient at any time: In-house radiology, in-house anesthesiology. All of our sub-specialists are available at a moment's notice," Wertin said.

Safety Office Director Chagnard told KSLA they also drill for mass casualties twice a year.

"Mass casualties, that's something we drill every year," he said. "People always want to know: Who's at your hospital? We have to collect that information. Patient tracking is important. Besides treating the patient, everybody's looking. Where'd they go? Where are they?" said Chagnard. "They'll assess them. If they need to go to surgery, they'll go straight to surgery from here."

Officials with the Louisiana Emergency Response Network, a state agency charged with developing and maintaining a statewide system of care coordination for trauma patients, told KSLA there are also Level 2 Trauma Centers in Alexandria, Hammond and Baton Rouge to help patients struck by mass shootings.

Chagnard said families can start preparing now by having a safety plan for their household. He said they can get started by checking here.

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