VIDEO: How trauma units respond to mass shootings

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - During tragic times like today's mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, trauma units can be overwhelmed with high numbers of victims.

Dr. Virginia Strickland, a UAB trauma surgeon, told WBRC what moments like those after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High, which led to 17 deaths, is like.

"Unfortunately it's something we have to think about here, but fortunately it's something that hasn't happened," she said.

Dr. Strickland said the first thing that happens is the unit calls in appropriate personnel. This includes going through a list of surgeons that need to be at the hospital and a secondary list of those who can be called in later.

When a victim arrives, she said the three most important things are to check airway breathing, circulation and exposure.

"The first thing we do is look them over from head to toe. That's kind of our primary survey, as well as seeing how their airway is, are they breathing OK, how their circulation is, is blood pressure OK, have they lose a lot of blood. Then you look at exposure, get everything off of them, see where they're shot, take a good look at them and decide what we want to do for them," Dr. Strickland said.

The Stoneman Douglas High shooting is another reminder of the impantace behind the Stop the Bleed campaign.

"That was a response to these school shootings, specifically the Sandy Hook shooting. It was basically trying to get the knowledge to stop that immediate bleeding loss into the hands of the people that are going to be there, the teachers, the people that are in the schools and just the general public," Dr. Strickland said. "It may take some time for the first responders to get there and we want to make sure that everyone we can save makes it to the hospital."

Dr. Strickland said Clay-Chalkville schools and some of Walker County schools have completed Stop the Bleed training. Homewood City Schools are close to completion and Vestavia schools are expected to be next.

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