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Louisiana is ready for mass casualty situation, according to state

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BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana Emergency Reponse Network or LERN is a call center located in Baton Rouge that fields trauma calls across the state. Tonight, it stands ready for any major event like what we saw unfolding in Las Vegas overnight.

In the event trauma, strokes, certain type of heart attacks or a mass casualty event, LERN tells paramedics which hospitals to send patients. The call center is operated 24/7 and is plugged in to every single hospital in the State of Louisiana.

"On a large scale, we would use our system to send out an alert to hospitals to be on standby, so they can ramp up internally and be ready to surge, and receive a high call volume of patients," LERN Executive Director Paige Hargrove said.

Louisiana is among a small group of states that has a call center like this. Prior to the call center, paramedics could routinley bring patients to hospitals that were already full. Now, that doesn't happen.

"We use a triage system, red, yellow, green and black is those that are deceased," Hargrove said. "The red patients we would try to get them to trauma centers  becuase time is of the essence. Lesser injured patients would move to hopsitals in the periphery."

Meanwhile, inside Our Lady of the Lake's Trauma Center in Baton Rouge, hospital leaders say they are prepared.

"Our region is quite capable, not only would our hospitals be an asset, we have two free standings emergency rooms in the community," Chief Operating Officer Terrie Sterling said. "The circle would get larger. once Baton Rouge gets saturated, those individuals that are less acute might go to Lafayette, Hammond or Alexandria."

Sterling says all of their rooms in the Trauma Center are capable of treating two patients at a time, and in a bind, other rooms can be converted to treat critical care patients in a flash.

Doctor Tomas Jacome is the Lake's Trauma Director.

"Unfortunately with the mass casualty that happened in Las Vegas, that would overwhelm any system," Jacome said. "The closest that would be similar was the Orlando shooting in the nightclub. We deal with these things more often and we are preparing more and more."

The State's LERN Call Center is one of the few call centers of its kind in the nation. It went online in 2009 and costs about one million dollars to run 24/7.


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