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Hospitals ready to respond to a mass casualty situation

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — After this past weekends tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, local hospital personnel are ready to react in a mass casualty situation.

“We have practiced for this,” said Terri Binfet, Gundersen Health System Clinical Manager of Emergency Services. “We know how to handle this.”

Gundersen Health System Emergency Manager Tom Wright has helped map out a plan to respond to multiple victims coming into the emergency room.

“The emergency departments will make a decision as how to first to escalate it whether they want to start calling staff in immediately, or if they want to see how it plays out,” said Wright.

If many victims start to coming in at once, the Gundersen ambulance bay will transform into a treatment center.

“You can’t always have control. What comes is what comes,” said Binfet. “Patients can walk in. They can drive themselves in. Ambulances are only one part of the flow into an emergency department.”

At the same time that victims are being treated in the bay, doctors will see if they can check out any patients early or move them to another clinic.

Gundersen, Mayo Clinic Health System and local first responders must be on the same page, so they practice drills throughout the year should the time come.

“All of them are part of those planning sessions just to optimize for drills, so you know what people want to get out of that drill, but that translates into real life,” said Wright.

All parties prepare individually and as a group to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

“You never want to have a tragedy like that, but we’re prepared,” said Binfet.

Both Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System are planning to participate in another community wide training with first responders in October.

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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