Local hospitals reveal emergency response plans in light of Las Vegas

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Local area hospitals have plans in place to prepare them for emergency mass casualty situations.

Photo courtesy MGN Online Image Id: 353462 11/22/2016

"I can't imagine how stressful it must have been to work at those hospitals in Vegas, it must have been just surreal, " UW Health Hospital EMS Section Chief, Michael Lohmeier said.

Lohmeier is also the Medical Director of Dane County EMS. He says that when dispatch gets the call of a possible mass causality event, they turn to UW Health Hospital as the base point of contact since they are the only level one trauma hospital in the area.

"We are sort of the quarterback in the situation," Lohmeier said.

UW Health then calls seven local hospitals in Dane County to see what their availability and resources are at the time.

"We find out who had what capability and at what time. Then, try to help the field providers direct the patients to the place that can accept them," Lohmeier said.

He says communications is the most important part about the plan. The seven hospitals in Dane County avidly work together on developing the best protocol for this possible situation.

"we have a big drill coming up at the end of the month with UW where we are looking at a huge surge just like what went on in Las Vegas," Unity Point Meriter hospital's Karen Munt said.

Munt does the emergency management at Unity Point Meriter. She says federal laws require hospitals to practice these emergency surge drills twice a year, but Dane County hospitals practice them at least 4-6 times a year.

The efforts in vamping up these types of preparations intensified in the early 2000's, according to SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital VP of Opperations Jonathan Lewis.

"Certainly the lessons of 9/11 kind of come to mind as a pivotal point of time when we really looked at what we need to do in order to prepare for something of that magnitude," Lewis said.