Las Vegas Sun

March 20, 2019

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Las Vegas doctor shares lessons from mass shooting

LIMA, Ohio — Sometimes the rules need to be broken.

Dr. Kevin Menes was in charge of the emergency room that handled many casualties of the Las Vegas mass shooting last fall. He was the keynote speaker at the Neuroscience and Trauma Symposium northwestern Ohio on Friday.

Menes was working at the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center emergency room in Las Vegas the night of the shooting, when 212 victims arrived.

"There's a number of different things we did that night," Menes said. "A lot of it was just going down to the basics of doing everything we can to save a life and getting rid of a lot of the extra, excessive bureaucracy in order to save as many lives as possible."

Doctors chose to bypass a system that nurses usually have to use to have access to medications. Doctors took the drugs from the pharmacy and gave them directly to the nurses. This allowed the nurses to help patients faster, he said. The doctors did the same thing with the blood that night, he said. There are steps to go through in order to get blood, but they went straight into the blood blank that October night and took the blood out directly.

"The rule breaking really saved a lot of people," Menes said. "A lot of these rules have their place. If we have a choice of following the rules and saving somebody's life, I think saving somebody's life outweighs that by a tremendous amount."

Menes also used a different method of triage he devised over the years for looking at penetrating trauma and gunshot wounds. He looked at the gunshot wounds and injuries and tried to estimate how long people had before the injuries became fatal, he said. Doing that allows doctors to treat gunshot victims in order of who will die soonest from their injuries; those who will die right away are treated first and so on, Menes said.

Menes said if doctors can learn from these events and find ways to save more lives, perhaps that will discourage people from causing those events.

Dr. Michael Sheehan, trauma surgeon at St. Rita's, was eager to share the knowledge.

"One of the reasons we invited Dr. Menes as one of our keynote speakers is because mass causality events are the totally unexpected and you never want it to happen but we train for it, we drill for it, we plan for it, hoping it never happens," Sheehan said. "The experience of someone who's had to go through it, and what they saw and what they did and what they need to improve on, helps us better to be prepared for that event should it happen in our area."