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University Hospital trains for mass casualty event with 150 shooting victims

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University Hospital officials said the most important thing they've learned from medical colleagues around the nation responding to mass shootings is the plan: have one, practice it and update it. (Photo: KUTV)

University Hospital officials said the most important thing they've learned from medical colleagues around the nation responding to mass shootings is the plan: have one, practice it and update it.

"It’s getting to the point where it’s only a question of when [a mass shooting] would occur," said Toby Enniss, the hospital's trauma medical director. "It’s something that we prepare for, we drill for."

In the Salt Lake Valley, Enniss said residents don't lack for resources in an emergency. Intermountain Medical Center and University Hospital are each level one trauma centers (one being the highest level) and St. Mark's Hospital is a level two trauma center. Primary Children's has level one trauma facilities just for children.

"We are very fortunate," he said.

But there can only be so many beds in an emergency room and so many operating rooms. Would Salt Lake's medical community be able to handle dozens of casualties, as there were in El Paso?

"We’re practicing with 100-150, maybe, even more, shooting victims when we drill and practice what our response plan would be," Enniss said. "It is incredible what people are capable of coming together to do in responding to this sort of situation."

Enniss said previous mass shootings have shown more lives can be saved -- or lost -- at the scene of the crime than in operating rooms. The Sandy Hook tragedy spurred the Stop The Bleed campaign, which teaches the public how to become first responders.

"Compression, applying a tourniquet, stopping life-threatening bleeding, that’s our greatest chance to save lives," Enniss said. "It’s our generation's version of CPR and in the end it’s probably going to be more important than CPR."

There are a variety of places to receive Stop the Bleed training in and around Salt Lake City, including the U and the Intermountain healthcare system.

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