How prepared is Utah for a mass casualty incident?

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – After the shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that left 12 dead, we asked officials in Utah whether the Beehive State might be ready for a similar incident.

At Intermountain Medical Center, one of just three level one trauma centers in our state, they have been preparing for a mass casualty incident and the patients that might come.

“I think that initial shock of, ‘This can’t be happening here, in our backyard,’ but once that wears off I think your training kicks in,”  said Jody Carter, a Trauma Nurse Practitioner at Intermountain Medical Center.

Carter says the Trolley Square shooting in 2007, when six people died, was a major tragedy in Utah.

Many other mass shootings nationwide have followed.

“We’ve learned a lot from a lot of places. Las Vegas,” said Carter.

Training and planning have followed — including how to staff the emergency room and other hospital departments after a mass casualty incident.

“You can’t treat a disaster the same way you treat everyday trauma. In other words, if you prepare in the same way you take patients daily — we would be overwhelmed and we would probably lose patients,” said Carter.

Law enforcement has been training for years, too. ABC 4 spoke with Sgt. Nick Bricker with Utah Highway Patrol, who says in recent years roughly 3,000 state employees have been trained in active shooter response.

“It’s sad that we have to have this conversation nowadays, but it’s the reality — unfortunately — of the world that we live in,” said Bricker.

This video — “Run. Hide. Fight.” — is one Bricker recommends watching. 

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