Monday, November 20, 2017
NORMAN - Forty seven days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Dr. Scott Scherr, medical director of Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, spoke to colleagues about the shooting for the first time.
Scherr was the first speaker Thursday to kick off The Cody Conference for Mass Causality - Disaster Care, jointly hosted by Norman Regional Health System and Team Health. The conference brings together a wide-range of healthcare professionals who play a role in planning, responding and recovering from mass causality disaster events.
"Forty seven days ago, exactly, the event in Las Vegas changed my life, changed the lives of the victims, changed the lives of many first responders, the lives of many healthcare workers and our families," Scherr said.
On Oct. 1, 2017, a lone gunman located on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas busted the windows of his suite and shot 12 bursts of fire at a crowd of 22,000 people attending a country music festival. The first burst of fire began at 10:05 p.m. The shots resulted in 59 deaths (including the gunman) and more than 500 injuries.
Scherr said he was home when the shooting happened, but always has his phone on him. His phone went off, but he ignored the first text, and then started to receive multiple texts and calls. He knew something was wrong.
"So I did what everybody else in this room would do," Scherr said to the room full of EMS personnel, physicians, advanced practice clinicians, nurses, hospital administrators, disaster managers and other healthcare professionals. "I got in my car, broke a lot of traffic laws getting to the hospital, and knew little to nothing of what we were getting into."
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is one of two hospitals located within less than five miles of the festival grounds.
Of the more than 500 people injured at the festival, Sunrise Hospital treated a total of 215 identified patients and 30 unidentified patients. Ninety two patients arrived at the hospital with no identification.
Sixty four patients had to be admitted, with 31 being admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The patients who had to be admitted and sent to operating suites had a total of 124 gunshot wounds. Sunrise Hospital performed 58 surgeries in the first 24 hours and 83 surgeries within two weeks. The types of surgeries varied between thoracic, abdominal, cranial and cervical, orthopedic, vascular and multi system.
Out of all of the patients they received, Sunrise Hospital had 16 mortalities.
The physician and hospital staff response included 100 physicians and advanced practice clinicians (APCs) and more than 200 registered nurses and ancillary staff. Team Health also sent in 20 emergency physicians and APCs, three hospitalists and 18 scribes, which are 18-20-year-old pre-professional students who jumped in to help “just like each and every one of us did,” Scherr said.
"The things that they saw affected them. It affected me, but really, they lost their innocence that night," Scherr said of the scribes.
Scherr said it was hard to track how many patients were coming in and how because of the amount of patients coming in in different ways all at once. When it came to private vehicles; there wasn’t just one patient per vehicle, but multiple.
Sunrise Hospital had an initial physician lead their triage plan. They had dedicated areas based on the triage level, either red (immediate), yellow (delayed) or green (minor). No patients were pronounced in the ambulance bay because so many patients were brought in by private vehicles. All patients were quickly assessed as they came in then transported to the correct triage area. All hospital transporters, wheelchairs and gurneys were brought to the Emergency Department before the first patient arrived.
The emergency rooms and PACU were utilized for patients. All supplies were moved onto 50 crash carts placed in centralized locations.
Hospital physicians and staff had to use altered standards of care to be able to take care of the large amount of patients in a quick amount of time.
"We’re first responders. We’re doctors. We’re the MacGyver of medicine. We have to think outside the box sometimes," Scherr said.
"It was a controlled chaos. It was a response that makes me so proud of our physicians, our nurses and our ancillary staff. They came together and there were only 16 deaths. That’s a lot of lives preserved," he said.
Finally, Scherr spoke on the community support of the event. Within 24 hours, the #VegasStrong was posted online and Vegas Strong shirts were being worn. Then multiple concerts and benefits were put on for victims and first responders. Blood donations started to pour in, and multiple people provided food for people in the community.
"I’ve lived in Las Vegas for about 20 years. I always thought it was a city, never thought it was a community until this happened," Scherr said.