Hospitals in Billings take part in mass casualty situations to p - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Hospitals in Billings take part in mass casualty situations to prepare for the unexpected

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

More than 59 people were killed and more than 500 people were injured in the Las Vegas shooting. That's an incredible number of people to treat and that means medical professionals have to make tough choices to ensure the most critical patients are seen first. Hospitals in our area take part in disaster drills to prepare.

Mass shootings can happen anywhere and at any time. Billings is home to two of our region's largest hospitals. KULR 8's Briana Monte reached out to both to see how prepared they are if a mass trauma event happens here.

"The overarching thing truly is communication," Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jason Mahoney said. "Notification that something like this has happened, communication to our community partners, communication inside. Then, once the patients start arriving, we want to be able to triage them, get the right ones the treatment that they need immediately and get everyone treated as quickly as they can."

"What triage means is to be able to sort out among all of the people that come in, who is uninjured, who is mildly injured, and who is severely injured," Medical Director of Trauma and General Surgeon Michael Englehart said.

So in a sleepy community like Billings, how do hospital personnel get the practice they need to ensure that they are ready if the unimaginable happens?

"We participate in the local emergency planning committee with the city in a conjunction with St. Vincent's and we drill for mass casualties situations," Englehart said.


Englehart said mass casualty training is hospital and city wide. In fact, KULR 8 took you inside one such scenario earlier this year at the Billings Logan International Airport.

But what about space? 500 patients at once is an overwhelming scenario to work through. Fortunately, St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic have plans on what to do if they run out of room for patients.

"Some patients may be discharged to free up beds," Mahoney said. "There's a possibility that we may send some patients out to the clinics or things like that. There are all sorts of opportunities to free up space in the hospital for patients from a mass casualty event."

The decisions are never easy, but thanks to ongoing training each year, both medical facilities are ready to do their part to save lives.

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