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Local paramedic, UMC talk about response to mass shooting in Las Vegas

Posted at 10:57 AM, Oct 02, 2017

As of this writing, 58 people were killed and 515 were injured after a mass shooting at the Route 91 music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night.

According to AMR MedicWest Director Damon Schilling, it's a scenario that emergency medical crews have prepped for, given Las Vegas' image as a prominent tourist destination. But they hoped the day would never come when they would have to put their training to use.

"You can train mentally as much as you can, but until you actually face the situation, you'll never know how you'll respond," he said.

As news of the shooting spread, paramedics rushed to the front lines to help those in need.

"We've had people who are on-duty, people who were off-duty, people who are volunteering," Schilling said. "You couldn't even park in our parking lot [because] we had so many people responding."

Danita Cohen, who represents University Medical Center, said she was proud of the surgeons who worked tirelessly to help patients in need.

"We have the absolute best trauma surgeons," she said. "This is what they train for, it's what they live for, it's what makes their heart beat." 

UMC staff assessed the needs of patients outside the doors of its Trauma Center. Those who needed immediate care were rushed inside, while those with injuries that weren't life-threatening were taken elsewhere inside the hospital.

Cohen believes that having one Level 1 Trauma Center in the valley - and only one - is important because it keeps all the trauma resources concentrated in one building. She explained that if other hospitals had Level 1 Trauma capabilities, it would "dilute" their resources.

Schilling describes Las Vegas as a big-little city. He said that a few of the emergency crews have run into close family or friends who were injured during the massacre. 

Counselors were provided for medical employees in case they needed emotional care.

In the meantime, crews will continue to work around the clock to treat those affected by the tragedy.