RICHMOND, Va. - More than 500 people were taken to Las Vegas hospitals after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Local health care experts said hospitals and providers constantly update response plans to ensure staff are trained for mass casualty incidents.
Robin Manke, Director of Emergency Management at VCU Health, is involved in developing plans for how Central Virginia health care providers would respond to mass shooter incidents.
"We are very prepared. We keep our plans current and updated,” said Manke. "It's another reason that health care has to be ready at the drop of the hat because you never know when it’s going to happen.”
Manke said it is standard practice in most areas, including Central Virginia, for hospitals and health care providers to have agreements in place to share resources like doctors, surgeons, beds, and even blood.
She said coordinating logistics between hospitals is critical to treating a large number of patients with varying degrees of injuries.
"While you're in the heat of the moment during the event, it’s hard for you to keep calling people or check on something,” Manke said.
Manke, a former emergency room nurse, said despite constant training, health care employees cannot help the emotional response that comes after working a large scale human tragedy like the Las Vegas shooting.
"From being an old ED nurse, I can tell you that your adrenaline is rushing and time goes by very, very quickly, Manke said. “Then, when it's done, that's when the emotional aspect starts.”
Blood donation lines in Las Vegas began to form at centers around Las Vegas just hours after the shooting. Virginia Blood Services called for local blood donors to come forward to help replenish their supply because will share blood with hospitals in Las Vegas.
Other groups are focusing on helping the families of those involved in the Las Vegas shooting. Local officials with the American Red Cross said the organization is in the process of sending trained mental health workers to staff family assistance centers, places where up to date information and counseling services are offered.
"Being there to cry with them, offer that spiritual support and guidance,” said Jonathan McNamara with the Central Virginia chapter of the Red Cross. "We want to provide that comforting environment with trained people who can help them get through this extremely difficult time.”
Officials said anyone who wants to check on family members who may have been involved in the Las Vegas shooting can call 1-866-535-5654. McNamara also suggested checking the website safeandwell.org.
Since the emotional toll of tragedies like this can extend beyond the immediate community, McNamara said they have advice on how to discuss tragedy on redcross.org.