LSU Spirit of Charity prepares for disasters on top of everyday trauma

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As medics rushed to Bourbon Street as it was filled with shooting victims, emergency room doctors prepared to save lives.

The ILH Spirit of Charity Trauma Center is staffed and prepared for disasters on top of everyday trauma.

As they walked through the mass of injured people, EMS's Dr. Jeffrey Elder said medics knew within minutes how many lives were depending on their help.

"Within minutes of being on scene the medics immediately began to triage the most critical victims," said Dr. Jeffrey Elder at a press conference on Sunday.

"Our communication with EMS is seamless," said Dr. Peter DeBlieux, the interim chief medical officer at LSU Interim Hospital.

The trauma center doctors prepared teams while they were in constant contact with the medics in the field early Sunday morning.

"So we accurately know who's coming and what the priority should be for the management of those patients," explained DeBlieux.

EMS transferred seven patients to the trauma center, and two, with more minor injuries, to Tulane Hospital.

As the country's busiest trauma center with penetrating trauma injuries, the emergency room doctors at ILH Spirit of Charity Trauma Center knew they could handle the influx of patients, according to Dr. Norman McSwain.

"The important thing about it is to recognize that we do this on a daily basis. We don't necessarily see 9 at once on a daily basis, but we see 9 certainly in a day, and for Mother's Day several years ago you remember we saw 14 at once, and I've seen as many as 30 in a 24-hour period," said McSwain.

"We can probably fit, in the emergency department itself, over 50 patients for an acute disaster kind of scenario," said DeBeliux.

There were enough beds for the shooting victims on Bourbon Street and for all other trauma victims who came from throughout the region.

"My son was shot 14 times," said Albert Greenleaf.

Albert and Jeanette Greenleaf said someone kicked in their 43-year-old son's apartment door in New Orleans East at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning. They said someone robbed and shot him all over his body as he was sitting at his computer doing homework for his Delgado business classes.

"A good, good, good child. Everybody else wants a child like my child," said a tearful Jeanette Greenleaf. "I went crazy, I started hollering, crying. It hurts so bad."

"A bullet to the chest, bullet to the belly, bullet to the right arm right hand, left arms, his legs, his groin," said Albert Greenleaf.

Though miles away, their son was shot just minutes before the Bourbon Street shooting, and he was brought to the same trauma center.

The Greenleaf's sat in the waiting room with the families of seven other victims while doctors worked nonstop to save lives.

"We're a little bit over staffed most of the time because we prepare for this kind of an event," said McSwain.

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