BILLINGS – St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings Clinic, and 16 other healthcare and emergency agencies participated in an active shooter drill Tuesday in downtown Billings.
The drill was to test the hospitals’ preparedness for such an emergency with a large number of victims.
“We’re here to practice a mass casualty situation that would cause a significant influx into our hospital that some may be critically injured,” St. Vincent Healthcare Trauma Medical Director Dr. Barry McKennzie said.
Volunteers were given cards describing various injuries.
In some situations, such as the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, victims were arriving in numbers and not always in an emergency vehicle.
“In case they show up in a private vehicle, (or) they walk in- so being able to recognize that, how do we activate our disaster system to get going? Because it’s not necessarily going to be a 911 call, showing up with an ambulance,” McKenzie said.
Staff must be able to manage a large number of incoming trauma victims.
“We really realize that we need to expand it outside of the ER, into the hospital, see what we can do, and really stress our system,” McKenzie said.
This would be in addition to providing care to the already high level of patients in the hospital due to cold and flu season.
“It goes all the way from the OR to the ICU to distribution, because we’ve got to have extra equipment and beds, so it’s absolutely a hospital-wide process,” McKenzie said.
The drill allows them to see what they need to change, and what is working, as well as limit the emotional response in such a chaotic situation.
“I just have a lot of confidence in the physicians and nurses and staff members that they’ll be able to think through the process. Obviously, none of us would ever want this to happen, but we just want to be ready for our community, and provide compassionate care, and very high-level care in a chaotic situation,” McKenzie said.
Reporting by Jenny Fick for MTN News