Las Vegas tragedy brings local emergency preparedness to forefront

The Las Vegas tragedy has brought local emergency readiness to the forefront of responders’ thoughts.

Officials from La Crosse County emergency management and both city health systems said the Las Vegas mass shooting is weighing heavily on their hearts and minds.

When tragedies strike, emergency responders try to learn from them.

“You know, you just get that sick feeling in your stomach,” said Joy Erb Moser, clinical educator at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Hearing about a tragedy such as the mass shooting in Las Vegas is never easy.

“It’s always with a heavy heart you hear reports of those situations,” said Gundersen Health System emergency manager Tom Wright.

Emergency professionals have even more on their minds.

“(We) always wonder, ‘How would your health system do in a similar situation?'” Wright said.

“Being prepared is everything,” Erb Moser said.

Staff at both Gundersen and Mayo can’t help but wonder how ready they are for a local tragedy.

“They’re now thumbing through our emergency preparedness guide,” Erb Moser said.

The two health systems, along with other emergency response organizations, practice regularly in crisis drills, such as a mock shooter situation at the airport this past summer.

“We imagine worst-case scenarios,” Wright said.

“You prepare, hoping you never have to use any of the training you have, but you know you can face that because you have been prepared.”

“We’re as well-prepared as we can be, but no one is going to be prepared for a wonderful concert that suddenly erupts into absolute terror,” said Keith Butler, La Crosse County emergency management coordinator.

Butler said an uptick in mass shootings in the country over the years has forced communities to adapt.

“We’ve been past very difficult situations before, and we’ll get past this one too,” he said, “but we’ll also have to make sure our emergency responders have tools they need just in case the unthinkable does indeed happen.”

Eventually, emergency responders locally and nationwide will be able to learn from how the Las Vegas situation was handled, partly from a mandated report.

“We pour through those pages to see what impact it has on us and how we can do better with the care we provide,” Erb Moser said.