Local hospitals prepared for mass casualty situations

Local hospital officials say they are prepared for mass casualty situations, like the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas. (CBS Austin)

After the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history happened during a music festival Sunday night in Las Vegas, many Austinites may be wondering if local hospitals are ready to respond if something like that were to happen, especially as Austin City Limits is around the corner.

Doctor Carlos Brown is Dell Seton Medical Center’s Chief of Trauma, and he said the hospitals in the area prepare every year for mass casualty situations.

"You drill as a hospital, and you drill as a region, so you can take care of those patients at a moment's notice,” Brown said.

Austin holds a city-wide emergency response drill every year to prepare for mass casualty events.

Many hospitals, like Dell Seton, hold additional drills on their own.

Dell Seton has more than 200 beds they’re ready to use for mass casualty victims, but that may not be enough. In the case of the Las Vegas shooting, more than 500 people were hurt, and more than 50 were killed.

"A mass casualty by definition overwhelms your resources, so you're dealing with the resources you have, and you're going to have to have a system that would allow you to expand your resources in a short period of time," Brown said.

In a situation like the Las Vegas mass shooting, Brown said all of the hospitals in the region work together, and communication is one of the most important things.

"Austin has multiple hospitals, multiple trauma centers, they would all have to come together,” Brown said.

In central Texas, there are two level one trauma centers, two level two trauma centers, and several that are level four.

For festivals like Austin City Limits, hospitals typically increase staffing.

In 2014, they were tested, after a driver plowed through a crowd during South By Southwest, killing four people.

Brown said they have used what they learned then to implement into their plans now.

"The system worked quite well. What we learned from it was that communication is always a challenge," Brown said.

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