When the first reports of an active shooter filtered into Las Vegas’ University Medical Center last year, it was shocking, chaotic — and exactly what the emergency medicine physicians had trained for. “It started coming over on the radio that there was a mass shooting with an active shooter, maybe more than one,” says UW School of Medicine alumnus Travis Marshall, M.D. ’16. As a senior resident and EMS coordinator at the medical center, he was used to working under stressful conditions, but never before during a mass casualty.
Quickly, the trauma center’s intensive care unit relocated its patients, making room for the influx of victims from the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in October 2017. Doctors rushed from all over the hospital to help; they didn’t have to wait for long.
By the time police finished cordoning off the streets around the medical center for ambulance traffic, the first shooting victims were already straggling into the emergency department on foot. These were the walking wounded, with less serious shrapnel injuries. Over the next few hours, more than 100 patients came into the Level I trauma center with life-threatening thoracic and chest injuries. Other hospitals around the city coordinated their efforts to accept the waves of emergency patients — nearly 600 in total.
“We see shootings all day, every day, but it was nonstop,” says Marshall.
Looking back, Marshall says his medical-school training helped him prepare — not just professionally, but emotionally. “UW Medicine trained us to have insight into how we’re feeling and to make sure we’re not getting burned out,” he says.
Marshall is proud of the care that he and his colleagues provided in the aftermath of the shooting. “We made a difference in many lives that night,” he says. “I hope the UW School of Medicine’s faculty and staff know that the education they provide is saving lives in very real ways.”