How St. Elizabeth’s in Youngstown prepares for mass emergency event

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – If a shooting like the one in Las Vegas happened in Youngstown would our hospitals be prepared?

The emergency room entrance at Youngstown’s St. Elizabeth Hospital is a busy place. In the case of a mass emergency like what happened at a country music festival in Vegas on Sunday night, tents might be set up outside to handle the overflow.

“A number like Las Vegas would inundate this hospital so you’d begin to prioritize and triage,” said St. Elizabeth’s Chief Operating Officer Don Koenig.

Koenig is very much involved with the planning of the hospital’s disaster plan.

“Any given day, we probably have 10 to 15 different surgeons here, mostly doing elective cases,” he said. “We’d immediately cancel all the elective cases.”

Though St. Elizabeth Youngstown is the only Level I trauma center between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, other medical facilities would be called upon.

St. Joseph’s in Warren, St. Elizabeth’s and Southwoods in Boardman, and Northside in Youngstown would all come together and work as one.

Koenig said they train for a disaster event like this.

“At least twice a year and many of our folks do drills every month.”

Training is one thing but actually dealing with a disaster is another.

“You train, and train, and train so that people know what to do even when they’re scared, shocked, and surprised, and you hope that they will all fall back on that training and practice,” Koenig said.

He said one of the things they practice for is a train derailment involving poisonous gas.

The federal government has provided St. E’s with a decontamination tent that can be set up in 30 minutes.