Preparing For The Worst

Local hospitals in the Sioux Empire continuously train for mass trauma events

The shooting in Orlando, where 49 people died has emergency workers all over the country reviewing their plans.

In Sioux Falls, the hospitals prepare for mass trauma events with regular training exercises.

The plan means a lot of different agencies have to do something they aren’t used to: work together.

Avera and Sanford personnel say they’re required to go through trauma training exercises at least twice a year.

That training combines Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Paramedics Plus, police and surrounding hospitals.

But Avera and Sanford personnel says it starts with EMS, who would likely arrive on the scene first, assess patients and assign them to a category based on their injuries.

“Red is life threatening injuries, they need medical attention now,” explains Avera Emergency Coordinator Kevin SChlooser. “Yellow is somebody who has serious injuries but they’re stable, and green is the walking wounded.”

“They’re looking for levels of consciousness, vital signs, where the injuries are,” adds Enterprise Manager of Public Safety Santa Maria. “There are certain critical areas like cardiac area, if there’s a gunshot wound there, those are critical patients. It all depends on what the patient presents and what the collection of symptoms and signs are when they come through the door.”

That initial assessment will determine where the patient will be treated.

“The most critically injured go to Avera Mckennan or Sanford,” says Schlooser. “Then some of the ones that are injured but not as severe go to VA or to the Avera Heart Hospital.”

“We would then re-assess them as they arrive here and the most critical would be seen first,” explains Santa Maria.

It’s a decision that the Emergency Management Coordinator at Avera says meant life or death for many victims in the Orlando shooting.

“A number of those victims were able to go directly to the OR, they didn’t stay in the Emergency Room and that’s what saved a number of lives,” says Schlooser, and shows how important being prepared is.

“We’re cognizant in this day in age that anything can happen,” he says. “It forces us to step back and really evaluate what emergency plans we have in place and that’s why we practice these all the time.”

Another key part of making sure a hospital is ready for an influx of patients, is making sure there are enough nurses and physicians on hand.

The Sanford public safety manager says on average, the time between finding out a trauma event happened, to the first patient arriving is around 20 to 30 minutes.