Kentucky school shooting tests Vanderbilt trauma team

By: Guest Author | Posted on: Jan 26, 2018

This article was originally published on modernhealthcare.com by Shelby Livingston. View the original article by clicking here. 

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The first Kentucky high school shooting victims arrived by air ambulance at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville just before 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Responding to a school shooting was a first for the medical center's trauma team, but they were ready.

"Yesterday was a tragic and horrible day for kids and the parents and the teachers and the town of that institution in Kentucky, but it was a Tuesday for a trauma center," said Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, medical director of trauma ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

That day, a 15-year-old male student opened fire in a common area at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., killing two students and injuring 18 others.

Five victims were flown by air ambulance to Vanderbilt, the closest Level 1 trauma center, about 120 miles from the high school in rural western Kentucky. A sixth patient was later transported to Vanderbilt's children's hospital by ground, the hospital confirmed.

When the first victims arrived at the medical center, the staff of trauma surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, nurses and others sprang into action, prepped for the situation from regular mass casualty drills.

"At any given time, when we're told that there are multiple individuals that have been involved in trauma, I think at baseline we're ready to manage that," Guillamondegui said, adding that triage is normal. "The team can grow to as many people as needed to manage those traumas."

But the circumstances weren't typical. In 30 years of being a trauma center, Tuesday was Vanderbilt's first experience responding to a school shooting. The scene was emotional for the victims, their families and for the doctors. 

Preston Ryan Cope, 15, died at the medical center from a gunshot wound to the head. The other victim, 15-year-old Bailey Nicole Holt, died at the scene of the shooting, according to law enforcement.

Vanderbilt is still caring for four victims, all of whom are expected to recover and be discharged in the next couple of days...


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