What if it happened here? Cincinnati hospitals develop response protocols for mass shootings

Posted at 8:25 PM, Jun 14, 2016

CINCINNATI — In the hours after Sunday's shooting at an Orlando gay club, five words surfaced repeatedly in the mouths of newscasters, bystanders and even President Barack Obama: "It could have happened anywhere."

So what if it happened here? The University of Cincinnati Medical Center, a potential treatment location for victims of any emergency in the area, is working to improve its response protocols in case Cincinnati is ever forced to deal with bloodshed on a large scale.

"Communication is the first thing that falls apart in almost any disaster," said Dr. Dustin Calhoun, the medical direction for emergency management at UC Medical Center.

His department is working to correct that; the UC hospital system has a dedicated communication system that allows hospitals and first responders to relay information in "all hazard events," an umbrella term that includes active shooter scenarios, bomb threats and natural disasters.

"[They can communicate] where patients are going, who is going where, which hospitals have available bedding, which hospitals have available manpower in their emergency departments," Calhoun said.

Just as its personnel learned from the 2013 Boston Marathon Attack, which forced Boston hospitals to chance patient documentation and unidentified-patient naming protocols, UC hopes to learn from Orlando hospitals' response to Sunday's attack.

"We also look at other real events, our own real events and other people's," Calhoun said.

Calhoun said that partnerships between hospitals and law enforcement are becoming more frequent across the county.