By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Emergency managers at Hennepin County Medical Center say the hospital is as prepared as it can be for an incident involving mass casualties.

Hospitals across the Twin Cities work together to make sure injured people get the services they need to survive.

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HCMC and other level-one trauma centers in the Twin Cities practice on a regular basis how to deal with a surge of people coming into the emergency room.

For the past 10 years, the practice has evolved into a response strategy that has proven to save lives.

“We have been preparing for these types of events since as early as 2006, and we have very specific response strategies that we work closely with our EMS, our fire and our police partners,” said Kurtis Bramer, the emergency manager of EMS at HCMC.

He says a city-wide exercise held every year keeps everyone that would be involved in an emergency situation prepared.

“I think we are not only prepared, I think we are prepared better than the rest of the country,” Bramer said.

It’s this training that leads Bramer to believe the area’s 32 hospitals — with 5,000 beds — are ready if tragedy strikes.

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He says the response strategy has been tested more than once, the first time during the Interstate 35W Bridge collapse.

“For the 35W Bridge collapse, EMS moved 50 victims inside of the first 90 minutes,” Bramer said.

Then, there was the shooting at the Accent Signage.

“We were able to rescue all three of the victims within 25 minutes of the very first 911 call,” Bramer said.

Bramer says it also helps to have so many level-one trauma centers so close together. HCMC, North Memorial, Regions and Minnesota Children’s Hospitals are all in the metro area.

“The hospitals are very prepared to support and back up one another if one is getting inundated,” Bramer said.

Bramer says police practice active shooter calls while EMS focus on its 3-ECHO strategy (enter, evaluate and evacuate).

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The 3-ECHO strategy was developed from a team that included EMS, emergency physicians, fire, police, bomb squad, and the military.

Reg Chapman