El Paso

UMC's Trauma Center undergoes disaster training, ready in case of mass shooting

How hospitals prepare for tragedy

EL PASO, Texas - "Like a war zone."

That's how a surgeon at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada described the hospital following Sunday's mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas. 

At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured.

Last year, the trauma center had a training drill regarding a similar circumstance. It's a common practice for medical personnel, including here in El Paso. 

Trauma Medical Doctor Alan Tyroch at University Medical Center of El Paso said the center underwent disaster training about a month ago. 

LINK: 'Stop the Bleed' Tourniquet training

"The State of Texas, several years ago, established trauma systems," Dr. Tyroch said. "We are one of 22 trauma systems in the state, so we practice as a region. What would we do if there were multiple shootings?"

Tyroch said a newer practice nationwide is placing tourniquets in various areas of a hospital, in case of an active shooter situation. He suggests placing them in schools, businesses, possibly even around arenas that host sporting events. 

"We've seen so many preventable deaths if someone would've just placed a tourniquet to stop the bleeding," Tyroch said. 

The doctor said if you're in a situation where you are severely injured and don't have a tourniquet, use a belt or shirt and push it into the wound. 

He said most police departments are now equipping their officers with tourniquets so they can self apply them before help arrives. It's a practice, he says, that can save lives and became more common following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. 

UMC is the only level one trauma center in a 270 mile radius. The closest level one trauma center is in Albuquerque. A level one trauma designation means your hospital and its staff are able to treat the most severe injuries. 

If El Paso were to experience an incident that led to a mass amount of victims, Tyroch said they would be separated amongst other area hospitals. 

UMC has 12 rooms inside its level one trauma center. Victims would be taken to different hospitals depending on the severity of their injuries. Tyroch said Vista Del Sol Medical Center is a level 2 trauma center, Las Palmas Medical Center and William Beaumont are level 3 and Hospitals of Providence is level 4. 

Tyroch said they would also bring in about 50 doctors, along with nurses and additional staff, from all over the region to help. 

"We have on busy nights between 20 and 30 patients over several hours," Tyroch said. "A hundred plus victims, we can't take care of all of them that's too much, that's why we have to separate them. Five or six victims at once, we can handle that."


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