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Local hospitals, police train year-round for mass casualty situations

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The tragedy in Las Vegas is bringing up questions of safety and preparedness here at home in Indiana. Both hospitals and law enforcement train multiple times each year for mass casualty situations.

Indianapolis has four Level 1 certified trauma centers. Those include Eskenazi Health, IU Health Methodist, Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health, and St. Vincent Hospital. In Nevada, there is only one certified Level 1 trauma center.

"I think the number that they saw in Las Vegas is going to just be overwhelming," explained Dr. Lewis Jacobson, Medical Director for the St. Vincent Trauma Center.

Early reports indicate more than 400 people hurt and over 50 people confirmed dead in the Las Vegas shooting tragedy. Dr. Jacobson said no hospital is prepared to take in 400 patients at once.

Having multiple Level 1 trauma centers in Indianapolis means if a mass casualty situation were to happen here, patients would be dispersed throughout the various locations.

A Level 1 trauma center has a full range of resources for trauma care. The certification insures the hospital has an adequate emergency room, operations rooms, ICU, physicians, nurses, therapists, and rehabilitation. The certification also means the hospital can take care of the most critical patients.

At St. Vincent Hospital, staff conducts multiple drills each year.

"The drill is the arrival of multiple casualties at the same time and then we test to see what resources we’re able to mobilize and whether there are any opportunities for us to improve on that," Dr. Jacobson said.

Law enforcement officers also prepare and train for worst case scenarios. Indiana State Police constantly change the way they train and respond to scenes like the one in Las Vegas.

"Every time one of these events occurs, we study it. We study so that we can learn and prepare," explained ISP Sgt. John Perrine. "We know that seconds matter and so we work on hastening that response and make sure every second that we can buy is gonna save lives."

There are dozens of Level 2 and Level 3 trauma centers throughout the state. One difference between the four Level 1 hospitals is that they have dedicated trauma and specialized surgeons on duty 24 hours a day.

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