Carilion surgeons say they have plan in place in case of mass shooting

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Hospitals in the Las Vegas area have been at capacity, treating the more than 500 people who were injured during last night's shooting.

With this tragedy comes an unimaginable thought: what if something like this happens again? How would a hospital prepare?

When a mass shooting was carried out at Virginia Tech, some patients were taken to Southwest Virginia's largest hospital at Carilion.

That tragedy remains top of mind for doctors at Carilion, and has them preparing for something much worse.

"Certainly since Virginia Tech I think having an active shooter event is always on the mind," said Dr. Daniel Lollar, a trauma surgeon.

He said Carilion has a disaster preparedness team that meets once a month.
Every three years they develop a plan for every kind of disaster - including a mass shooting. The plan was updated this year.

Lollar said it's impossible to prepare perfectly, but that planning ahead for communication and making space for patients is a priority.

"We would want to make sure that the sickest patients who had life or death injuries were treated as expeditiously as possible," he said.

Because the hospital can’t admit hundreds of patients at a single time, he said they would delegate, working to send patients to other care centers based on the severity of their injuries.

"I can't even imagine how overwhelmed they must be," said Sarah Beth Dinwiddie, Carilion’s trauma outreach coordinator.

She said Carilion has been working to reinforce efforts to help people even before they get to a hospital. For example, she teaches a tourniquet application class. It was developed with the help of Homeland Security after the Sandy Hook school shooting.

"Since I started teaching this class,” she said. “I have started carrying one."

She says the community's help is key in the event of a major disaster.

"Providing them with a few resources and education they can truly save lives in an event like this."

For more information about that class, you can search Carilion Clinic’s website.