Local emergency responders prepared for the worst

Emergency responders running through drills, 2014 (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When tragedy strikes, like the Las Vegas massacre, no one thinks it will happen to them. That is why emergency responders across the Cape Fear are trained and ready for any and all situations that may come our way.

While no one can completely prepare to handle mass shootings, New Hanover Regional Medical Center and New Hanover County Emergency Management & 911 said they have no choice but to try.

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“We’re the only trauma center, level 2 trauma center, here in Southeast North Carolina. So there is no other opportunity then for us to be prepared,” Manager of Hospital Preparedness, Mark Bennett said. “We have to have the resources in place. Because we’re not in LA, we don’t have multiple trauma centers standing by right around the corner.”

The hospital has staff and emergency responders run through drills and exercises at least twice a year. New Hanover County Emergency Management & 911 Director Steven Still said they do too.

“We have a framework that we apply to any incident in the county. It’s, it’s considered an all hazards approach. So the, the methodology and the operations of it are essentially the same. If it were a hurricane, if it were a train derailment, a hazardous material, or a mass casualty, we apply ourselves in the same framework every time. Though the training is constant and consistent across the board,” Still said.

All to make sure everyone is familiar with the policies and plans in place.

“So we walk through these procedures and, you know, from the smallest detail to the largest detail,” Still said. “What do we need to have in place? What additional training do we need to have and be prepared for? So we do train, we do walk through, so if unfortunately an event like this was to happen our guys are ready.”

Bennett said if necessary, the hospital can hold more than 400 patients. But they would not treat all of them on their own.

“We are a health system that involves not only our hospitals but also the hospitals surrounding in our region. So it’s a community effort,” Bennett said.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center is teaming up with New Hanover County Emergency Management, the New Hanover County Sheriff Department and EMS to hold an active shooter drill later this month.