Roanoke Valley health leaders prepared for high-casualty situation

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Hospitals in Orlando acted quickly to help the more than 50 people hurt in Sunday's shooting.

If a mass-casualty situation happened in the Roanoke Valley, health leaders say they'd be ready to respond.

John Burton, the chair of Emergency Medicine at Carilion Clinic, said Roanoke Memorial Hospital has the largest emergency department in Southwest Virginia. In fact, it's the only Level I Trauma Center in the region.

Since 9/11, Carillon Roanoke Memorial Hospital has organized an incident command response team composed of doctors. The team is categorized as a code green, meaning that if there was ever a large-scale disaster, the team would be put into action.

"Like this weekend, 50 patients were brought into the hospital," said Burton. "That's a massive volume of people and you'd really have to reallocate patients that are here, things that are scheduled or things that don't need to be done today."

Burton told us the incident command team would work to reallocate the hospitals' resources such as doctors, nurses, patients and rooms to best help those in need of immediate attention.

"So, if we needed other beds and other hospitals to take some of those patients we would communicate with them about doing that," said Burton.

But the work doesn't stop at the hospital. The Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance, created following 9/11, would assist in communicating information between all hospitals and local leaders.

"You'd have several people handling command and control," commented Craig Camidge, the executive director of the alliance. "You'd have an instant commander on scene, which might be a fire chief or law enforcement. You'd also have commanders at the hospitals that are coordinating the receiving hospital's response."

It's all about working together to provide a speedy response and meet the patients' needs.

Carilion said its incident command team practices responding to large-scale drills annually, hoping not to use training, but be prepared for a high-casualty situation.