Vanderbilt University Medical Center fully prepared to handle mass casualty events


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tuesday morning just before 6 a.m., four people are shot.

According to Metro Police, the gunman, Antonio King, an employee at Smile Direct Club’s warehouse in Antioch, pulled out a semi-automatic weapon and shot three people at the facility. Minutes later, Metro Police find and shoot the gunman.

All four victims had different levels of trauma. But the one thing they all have in common, they were all rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a level one trauma center equipped to handle any type of mass casualty event.

According to Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, any trauma where three or more people are hurt is considered a mass casualty event.

And Tuesday morning, as ambulances and police descended on Smile Direct Club and news of a mass casualty shooting broke in Antioch and across the nation, Dr. Guillamondegui and his staff of level 1 trauma doctors and nurses geared up for a mass casualty event.

“We triage like we do in times of war, strife,” the man affectionately nicknamed ‘Dr. G’ said, “We’ve had up to 10 to 12 patients, at once, we are able to manage without any change in our day to day routine.”

The chief of trauma tells News 2 that he treated all three gunshot survivors.

“They are all doing better than expected,” said Dr. G.

According to MNPD, security guard Johnny Hardin, 46, is in critical condition. Security guard Carlton Watson, 66, is in stable condition. Manager Thomas Abbott, 54, has been treated and released.

The 20-year Vanderbilt trauma doctor tells News 2 that Vanderbilt and its staff of caregivers is uniquely prepared for a mass casualty event like the one Tuesday morning.

“We are going to manage them the same way whether it’s more than one or a single patient. In doing so, we triage according to how sick they are and their vital signs and once we put it in order, we take care of each of them individually and we bring extra trauma surgeons in as we need to.”

Dr. G tells News 2, “Most of the trauma surgeons here have been through 8 to 10 years of training up to the time that they became trauma surgeons.”

And when it comes to Vanderbilt, the doctor says the hospital is ready for almost anything.

“We have the ability to have more operating rooms running at any given time. We have more blood products for those patients bleeding to death and we have more surgeons trained in the art of doing trauma as a specialty.”

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Dr. G tells News 2, when word broke of the shootings, “We all come down, ready to meet the patients as they come through the door. Typically, there’s a little bit of an edge, but we stay calm so everyone else remains calm.”

Traumas at Vanderbilt have reportedly tripled in 20 years to about 6,000 a year. The surgeon says that makes Vanderbilt one of the busiest hospitals in the country despite being a mid-sized urban center.

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