La Crosse hospitals conduct drills to prepare for possible mass casualty events

Gundersen and Mayo maintain communication to transport of patients during emergencies, according to officials

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Gundersen Health System conducts emergency drills regularly to prepare for the possibility of mass shootings.

“Shooter exercises, we’ve done big drills at many of our Gundersen campuses” since 2014, said Tom Wright, Gundersen’s  emergency management director.

Preparation is done with police, firefighters and EMS workers in La Crosse to prepare for anything that could happen, he said.

“We study the incidents that other communities have had,” Wright said.

When asked about the possibility of high-capacity assault rifles being used to severely wound people, Wright said it is a “concern” but that Gundersen’s trauma services are strong. Efforts also have been made to bolster the ability of EMS workers to respond, he said.

“My hat goes off to our folks in our trauma services who are very aware of those situations,” Wright said. “We’ve worked to buttress EMS response,” Wright said.

Meanwhile, at Mayo Clinic Health System, emergency drills for mass casualty events are conducted at least twice a year,  and smaller drills also take place, said Paul Albrecht, a registered nurse who is Mayo’s environmental safety and emergency management director.

During large emergencies, patients are categorized based on severity, said Albrecht, who has 40 years of experience. Patients deemed red and yellow are more serious, while green patients are not as severe, he said.

“We make sure that we’re prepared in any of those situations,” Albrecht said.

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