Orlando shooting: Lessons for hospital trauma teams on facing a crisis

Man and woman doctor

The mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub--the deadliest in U.S. history--and a local hospital’s efforts to care for victims offer valuable lessons to hospitals on how to respond in a crisis situation.

Orlando Regional Medical Center took in 44 patients over the course of the attack on June 12, and 35 survived their injuries, reports The New York Times. The situation, experts say according to The Times, proves that the faster victims reach a trauma center, the more likely they are to live. However, according the article, Orlando may not be a perfect model, as the hospital was located just blocks from Pulse, where the shooting occurred.

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“Because of the proximity, we felt that more lives had been saved than if it were anywhere else,” Eric Alberts, the hospital’s emergency preparedness manager, told The Times.

The sense of urgency following the shooting forced first responders to send victims to local emergency departments without first fully assessing their conditions, according to the article. The emergency room at Orlando Regional went to “Status Black:” turning away any patients beyond the shooting victims and those in need of immediate, critical care.

Nearly 30 operations were performed in hours after the shooting, according to the article, and all of those patients survived their injuries. Of those who died at Orlando Regional trauma center, all died within minutes, according to the article. Jay Falk, M.D., the academic chairman of emergency medicine, warned that, had there been even more casualties, the system might not have been prepared.

Experts also say that it’s possible more victims could have received needed medical care if law enforcement had ended the standoff at the nightclub sooner, according to the article, but they cautioned against judging or blaming police on the scene.

Since the shooting, Alberts has had multiple debriefings with his emergency preparedness team and Orlando paramedics have consulting with teams from Aurora, Colorado and Boston--who faced similar situations--to compare notes on how the situation was handled. “As the next city to experience a horrific event like this, we have to pay it forward,” Orlando Fire Department Chief Roderick S. Williams told The Times.

- here’s the article

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