Are hospitals prepared for mass casualty events?

- It's a sad reality that shootings, like the one in Las Vegas this week, are becoming more frequent.

A tragedy like this one could potentially happen anywhere.

FOX 46 Charlotte visited with a local hospital Wednesday to find out what goes into preparing for a mass casualty event of this magnitude.

"They're low frequency, high consequence events," said Novant Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Department Chairman Dr. David Rentz.  "It's important you're prepared and know how to respond.

The tragedy.. the chaos.. it's something you can never really fully be prepared for.

"Priority number one is take care of the community-- and know what your resources are," said Dr. Rentz.

Hospitals throughout the region have emergency plans in place should a mass casualty tragedy occur in our area.

"I have a way to easily text every emergency physician here at Presbyterian Hospital to alert them that, 'hey, we may need your help.'"

Novant Presbyterian, for example, constantly looks at its emergency plan-- often running drills to make sure staff members know what to do and how to react.

"Just within this past year, we looked at it again with our own emergency management committee," said Dr. Rentz.  "To make sure it's as up to date and robust as possible."

During a disastrous event, an incident command center would be activated-- allowing for coordination and communication with state and local police, as well as other hospitals in the area.

"When you're dealing with a mass casualty or disaster-- it extends well beyond the walls of what the hospital can manage," said Dr. Rentz.  "And so emergency preparedness is a plan that augments whatever the hospital resources are-- to work with state and federal agencies."

That's why-- the hospital takes time several times a year to run through emergency drills and open up the command center, testing several different scenarios.          

"With a mass disaster or mass casualty situation, 55 rooms in an emergency department isn't going to be enough," said Dr. Rentz.  "You're going to have to be creative and get a lot of resources."

Having a plan in place is key.

Staff at Novant Presbyterian say if a mass casualty situation occurred here in our area, all hospitals would work together to make sure the community is taken care of.

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