Long Beach health workers prepared for mass shooting event but hope it never happens • Long Beach Post News
The latest high-profile mass shooting took place Wednesday at a medical facility in Tusla, Oklahoma, in which four people were killed, including two doctors.
“It hit home,” Dr. Graham Tse, Miller’s chief medical officer, told The Post on Friday. “There are always disgruntled patients and families, but I’m afraid there is one person who doesn’t know how to express their displeasure.”
Tse said the United States is at a time when people don’t know how to express themselves in healthy ways, turning instead to violence. The Tulsa shooter had recently been treated for back pain following surgery on the Saint Francis Health System campus.
Schools have been the scene of numerous mass shootings, including a shooting last week in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 elementary school students and two teachers dead. Prior to that, a shooting occurred at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14 in which 10 people were killed.
Students from local high schools also rallied against gun violence on Friday.
Memorial and St. Mary’s have both reported an increase in the number of trauma patients with gunshot wounds. Over the past three years, Memorial has seen an increase of just over 50%, according to hospital data. St. Mary’s, meanwhile, saw a 47% jump, Gloria Carter, director of nursing at the hospital, said at the event.
“We shouldn’t have to live in fear,” Carter said of the community as a whole.
On the Long Beach Medical Center campus, staff are prepared for mass shootings, both internally and in the community. At least twice a year, hospital staff participate in an active-fire exercise to ensure team members are up to speed on procedures and best practices, Tse said.
The hospital also holds drills for community mass casualty events, which includes activating a command center.
Los Angeles County, and Long Beach in particular, is well prepared for such events, said Stephanie Garcia, director of trauma and acute care surgery at Memorial. Across the county, there are 15 trauma centers ready for mass shootings and other mass casualty events like earthquakes.
In Long Beach, Memorial and St. Mary’s are county-designated trauma centers. Memorial is one of seven that can accept pediatric patients, while St. Mary’s can admit adults during such events.
“We all have the ability to sustain and take the influx of patients,” Garcia said, adding that the difference between a trauma center and a standard emergency room is the ability to admit patients faster.
Each trauma center is stocked with additional supplies, including stocks of various blood types to ensure that patients do not bleed from a bullet or other injury.
Trauma centers also work with surrounding hospitals in the event of an emergency. During a mass casualty event, trauma centers may transfer less critical patients to other hospitals — in Long Beach that would be Lakewood Regional and Los Alamitos Medical Centers — to free up space and staff for new critical patients.
“We hope, however, that we never have to,” Garcia said.
After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children as young as 6 or 7, Memorial and St. Mary’s partnered with local schools in a campaign called “Stop the Bleed.”
Medical professionals will visit schools to educate teachers, staff and students on how to prevent someone from bleeding, including the use of a tourniquet, Garcia said. After the Sandy Hook shooting, Garcia added, it was determined that some of the victims might have survived if civilians at the scene had known how to stop or slow the bleeding.
Garcia said she brought her young children to Friday’s event because creating a safe environment for children was important to her.
“Despite our best efforts, we’re not able to save everyone and having to watch the parents, it’s just devastating,” Garcia said. “And drop my kid off at kindergarten the next day [Uvalde], it was hard. I want to create a safe environment for them, and for all children, to grow up in.
“It’s not a political issue; it’s a public health issue,” Garcia added. “We had the ability to prevent children from dying in car accidents. We made car seat and helmet laws to protect our children. We should treat gun violence like this.