Trauma surgeon visits Sentara Norfolk to share lessons learned while working Las Vegas massacre

NORFOLK, Va. - A trauma surgeon who was in the operating room minutes after of one of the worst mass shootings in modern American history is teaching local doctors about the lessons she learned the night of the Las Vegas shooting.

“We were almost finished with our patients that we admitted during the day, when we heard that there was an active shooter on the Strip and within a couple of minutes that we would be getting multiple casualties," said Trauma Surgeon Dr. Deborah Kuhls, M.D.

Dr. Kuhls says within minutes, there were five to 10 patients who needed immediate care - then minutes later, another 10 to 20. There were so many more through the night that the hospital had to call in major back up.

She says ever since the September 11 terrorist attacks, all over the country there has always been an emphasis on the level of preparation when it comes to a major disaster.

“We do run mass casualty drills a couple of times a year. Sometimes the police department will stage a shooting or an explosion in downtown, the MacArthur Center or something like that. We’ll bring in patients and run through drills," said Dr. Jay Collins with Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, a national awareness campaign called "Stop the Bleed" was set up in order for members of the entire community - medical or not - to learn what to do in a tragedy. The consensus was if more everyday people would have known how to stop bleeding during mass casualties – like Sandy Hook - more children would have survived.

Medical professionals say training, practice and having a set plan in place are vital in staying vigilant.

“It’s really a different way of thinking. It’s important that there is a plan and that it’s practiced so that in an emergency it comes as naturally as it can as to what to do," Dr. Kuhls said.

Even though it's hard to prepare for a mass casualty, doctors say it is imperative to train so you are never caught off guard.

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