Las Vegas trauma surgeon part of discussions to help hospitals better prepare for mass shootings

Healthcare professionals stress the importance of pre-hospital care, which can save lives.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:58 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - UMC trauma and critical care surgeon Dr. Deborah Kuhls was working the night of the tragic One October shooting in 2017.

“I took on a role of a senior trauma surgeon helping to decide who needed to go to the operating room very quickly to save their lives; who needed blood. We saw the first 20 patients in about five minutes. And we had just a few minutes notice that injured people were going to arrive,” said Dr. Kuhls.

Dr. Kuhls, also a member of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, participated with other healthcare professionals to publish recommendations and lessons learned from mass shootings in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The group included EMS clinicians, emergency physicians and surgeons who responded to six mass shootings in the U.S. including the One October shooting.

Participants identified eight recommendations that were similar across all groups for an effective healthcare response in the future.

  • Readiness training: Regular, multi-domain training activities, which mirror the realism of actual events, to ensure the readiness of the entire community system.
  • Public education: Prior public education or immediate direction from web-based mapping programs about the appropriate hospitals to bring MSI patients for care.
  • Triage: A staged and iterative triage process at the scene, emergency department, and to prioritize operative care.
  • Communication: Effective communication between prehospital personnel at the scene and hospitals.
  • Patient tracking: A patient tracking system that functions from point-of-injury through all subsequent healthcare.
  • Medical Records: Rehearsal with and rapid availability of alternative methods of patient care documentation and order entry.
  • Family reunification: Rapid implementation of organized, well-communicated family reunification and assistance services.
  • Mental health services: Tailored after-action mental health services for responding professionals.

While the focus of a conference last fall was how healthcare facilities can best respond after a mass shooting, there was also a discussion about the public saving lives. Participants talked about bleeding control training.

“So public education, how to save a life in a shooting is really important. And Stop the Bleed training was an early product of the American College of Surgeons. It’s already trained millions of civilians and that needs to continue,” said doctor Kuhls.

During the discussions, a number of participants talked about how patients arrived with tourniquets already in place and thought they were “probably lifesaving.”