Huntsville Hospital says they are able to handle a mass casualty scenario like Orlando

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - As the Orlando Massacre unfortunately showed us, hospitals have to be ready for an influx of patients at a moment's notice.

“You always have to be prepared for an unfortunate event like this and the way you do that is you plan in advance and you drill," says Dr. Rony Najjar, the Chief of Trauma at Huntsville Hospital.

While Dr. Najjar never wants to see something happen like this in the Rocket City, he says Huntsville Hospital has the capacity as a level one trauma center and staff to handle this type of situation.  “They are the Navy Seals of Trauma," says Dr. Najjar.  “I firmly believe that we would be able to handle it. I’ve seen the personnel mobilize in disasters before.”

He says his nurses and doctors participate in the rigorous Red Shirt and Red Hat training program.  “Not just on paper, but they’re tested on hand skills, and skills stations, and in front of trauma surgeons and they’re drilled and put under duress, if you will. They’re timed on their skills," says Dr. Najjar.

Beyond the trained trauma staff, Dr. Najjar says the entire hospital staff would be mobilized, because as Orlando has shown us, you want a top notch team, just down the road.  “Time is of the essence for trauma and seconds count,” he says.

Treating High Powered Rifle Gunshot Wounds

The gunman's choice of a high-powered rifle as his weapon, made things even more difficult for doctors in Orlando.  “It’s somewhat of what you would think of a war zone," says Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, a Doctor at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Huntsville Hospital's Chief of Trauma says the wounds left behind by high-powered rifles can cause a lot of damage.  “Instead of just a small hole, you’ve got a big hole. It’s leaning towards a military type of function," says Dr. Najjar.

Najjar served in the military as a surgeon, but says in recent years, he's seen more and more of these wounds in the civilian world.  “The pendulum is swinging more and more with these kind of ballistics that are more and more cavity causing lesions if you will, they’re a lot more destruction to it," he says.

Dr. Najjar says in his line of work, you can't let emotions get to you.  “When you’re faced with that as a trauma surgeon or trauma nurse, or the personnel here, you get into this box if you will, you get into the zone and you block out your emotions and you just focus on helping the people," says Dr. Najjar.

Thanks to that focus and precision, untold numbers of victims here and in Orlando, are able to eventually emerge from their hospital beds.  “We don’t have the luxury to sit back and pontificate about things so you have to, it’s hurry up offense if you will," he says.


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