Las Vegas is different this week. And that’s no surprise. This city has been shocked by the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Some of us were here that day; some of us flew in on Monday. All of us are safe. All of us are deeply saddened. All of us want to do something to help.
Nursing Management Congress 2017, our annual conference for nurse leaders, is taking place this week at The Mirage Casino & Resort. Conference staff and attendees came to Las Vegas to continue our tradition. And while it’s been a different mood here this week, we will not let the actions of one person stop us from learning, networking, and supporting one another. We’re nurses. We are here and we are here to help.
What we’ve been doing
Upon arrival here, our conference chairperson, Pamela Hunt, BS, MSN, RN, NE-BC, immediately contacted University Medical Center to see how our large group of nurse leaders could best serve their network. Because of the overwhelming response from local businesses and volunteers, our services have not been required on-site. Like many all over the world, we have been thinking and praying for the victims and their families, and all the first responders and health care providers.
“We are truly saddened and heartbroken at the recent events and tragedy in Las Vegas. While we continue to hold the victims and families in our thoughts and prayers – we are a resilient and dedicated group of nursing professionals who have gathered for a week of learning, education and networking. Our goal is to remain committed to providing strategies for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of care delivery as nursing best practices. And no one will take that from us.”
-Pamela Hunt, BS, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Nursing Management Congress2017 Chairperson
In a sad coincidence, the topic of the keynote address was Orlando Active Shooter: Lessons Learned. We all listened closely to this sobering presentation from Michael L. Cheatham, MD, FACS, FCCM, Chief Surgical Quality Officer, Orlando Regional Medical Center. Dr. Cheatham emphasized the importance of preparation and drills, focusing on being ready when
, not if
, the next mass casualty occurs.
Here are some things other things I learned:
- There have been 273 mass casualty events this year as a result of gun violence.
- During a mass casualty event, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows sharing of names and conditions to identify victims.
- While we know gun violence is a public health crisis, the Dickey Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to study this issue.
- Stop the Bleed is an initiative to train the public how to help in a bleeding emergency.
In coordination with the Mirage Casino & Resort, a blood drive was organized to be held here at the conference. We are proud of the nurse leaders who are lining up to contribute to this cause! As nurses, we know how important it is to have an adequate supply of blood products for a typical shift. I can only imagine the number of units of blood that have been transfused at UMC over the past several days.
What you can do
Thousands of people attended the outdoor concert on Sunday, October 1, 2017. There were also many witnesses including hotel guests, entertainers, and employees in the tourism industry During a cab ride from the airport to Nursing Management Congress, Karen Innocent, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, CMSRN, Executive Director, Continuing Education, listened to her taxi driver share her experience driving many frightened concert-goers away from Mandalay Bay. The driver kept repeating “I was in shock.”.
Unlike many other mass casualty events that had a local impact, the survivors and witnesses who were tourists in Las Vegas will be heading home to their communities around the U.S. They may present to your health system, clinic, or office for health care in the coming months. They may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Will you be able to recognize it?
The National Institutes for Mental Health
identifies four diagnostic criteria for PTSD (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016):
- At least one re-experiencing symptom (flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts)
- At least one avoidance symptom (staying away from places that are reminders of the trauma, avoiding related thoughts and feelings)
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (startling easily, feeling tense, sleeping difficulty, angry outbursts)
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms (trouble remembering key features of the trauma, negative thoughts about self or the world, guilt or blame, loss of interest in enjoyable activities)
It is critical for all of us to be prepared both for the occurrence of mass casualty events and for the care of patients who are affected as a result. Recognize the importance of preparation and drills. Make sure your institution has a Hospital Incident Command Center. Ask questions. Get involved. Be prepared.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, February). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP
Senior Clinical Editor, Lippincott NursingCenter.com
Karen Innocent, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, CMSRN
Executive Director, Continuing Education