CT hospitals reexamine protocols for mass-casualty events - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT hospitals reexamine protocols for mass-casualty events

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

Following the mass shootings like the one that claimed 49 lives last weekend in Orlando, hospitals often reexamine their own protocols and how efficiently they would respond.

St. Francis Hospital in Hartford is one of them.

Doctors at St. Francis Hospital said while people can't be fully prepared for something like what happened in San Bernardino, CA or Aurora, CO, going through drills on a regular basis is a key to working out any challenges that may come up.

"When you actually drill it and you don’t just talk about it you find the actual mechanics of going through the process, highlight some issues that need to be overcome," said Dr. Steven Wolf, chairman of emergency medicine at St. Francis Hospital.

Eyewitness News was given photos of a drill that happened in February.

Wolf said that kind of devastation takes an emotional toll that many people don't realize.

"When you start to deal with the families and the aftermath that’s extremely stressful," he said. "You've got to concentrate on the patient when you're working on the patient and you try to filter out everything else but then you got to go out and talk with the family and that’s where it starts to really cascade in and the human tragedy and what they have to go through."

Wolf said his staff trains for a variety of mass casualty situations and is fully aware that trauma centers would be overwhelmed. He offered some insight into what doctors in Orlando dealt with as dozens of victims flooded trauma centers in the city.

"We, in a situation like that, would be extremely stressed as well," he said. "We would call in our surgeons. We have a lot of staff most of the time anyway, so it would be difficult, but it's doable."

St. Francis officials said they recently did a mock drill involving an active shooter situation. They said drills allow them to take a look at any weaknesses and how efficient communication is.

It also allows them to practice with all of the agencies that would be involved.

"It's important for all the services to communicate whether it's police, fire, emergency medical services, hospitals," said Dr. David Shapiro, trauma surgeon, St. Francis Hospital. "They all have to communicate with each other."

Officials at St. Francis said there would be an incident commander at the hospital along with a team to work with the media for timely updates for the public.

Shapiro said perfecting communication between colleagues and other agencies could save precious minutes.

"Knowing who's who, knowing who's where. Knowing what resources you have both with personnel, with supplies, blood transfusions," Shapiro said. "All the things that someone might need to get cared for have to be known by the system."

Still, there is emotional trauma for which no training can prepare.

"That’s probably the largest toll on a provider is dealing with and seeing the aftermath and the devastation for the families," Wolf said.

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