The man at the scene of a serious car accident is gasping for air.
His fellow passenger is bloodied, bruised and rolling on the ground.
Who gets immediate attention?
Touro University in Henderson will provide the answer to that question for those who receive training in the school’s new center for disaster life support.
“You need the worst first,” said John Dougherty, dean of the college of osteopathic medicine at Touro University, explaining that patient No. 1 in the above scenario would be the priority. “Triaging to know that (a patient) would need to go to the hospital right away because he has a compromised airway … that’s a very important decision to be making.”
Filling a void
Touro University unveiled its new center Monday, more than two months after the Oct. 1 shooting on the Strip. Las Vegas is currently the largest city in the United States without a disaster life support center certified by the National Disaster Life Support Foundation.
“The disaster life support is a series of courses that progressively gives (students) skills to learn how to handle individuals who find themselves in the middle of a man-made or natural mass casualty event, unfortunately, like we’ve experienced,” Dougherty said. “There are very specific things you can do on the scene before they get to the hospital.”
On Monday, Dr. Derek Meeks, an assistant professor at Touro, demonstrated how to treat a patient suffering from tension pneumothorax — a buildup of air in the pleural space surrounding the lungs, usually because of a lung laceration — at the scene of a car accident.
“(The suit) didn’t come with incisions,” Meeks said. “We make the incision and practice going through the steps of putting a chest tube in. It’s a great opportunity to practice.”
Besides Touro students and staffers learning skills in the lab, the school will work with first responders on advancing their skills.
Introductory course envisioned
The school also wants to open the lab to anyone in the community who wants to gain disaster life skills. The first level of training provides participants with introductory knowledge over a half-day course.
“You could be out having ice cream one day with your daughter and then the next thing you know you’re a first responder,” Dougherty said.
The center is named after Stephen J. and Chantal Cloobeck. Stephen Cloobeck founded the time share company Diamond Resorts International.
The center was part of Dougherty’s vision when he came to the school last year. In 2011, he saw firsthand the effects of a natural disaster when 161 people died in a tornado in Joplin, Missouri.
“Working 70 hours straight in a hospital will give you the sense of urgency you have when you are put in charge of these wonderful, amazing students to give them the skills they need to be effective participating members of the health care team,” Dougherty said.