Dr. Tracy Timmons and her team of trauma specialists were teaching community members how to respond to gunshot wounds Thursday afternoon, a program called “Stop the Bleed.” That’s when the news broke of a shooting at Smith Tower Apartments in downtown Vancouver that left one dead and two others injured.
Timmons is a surgeon who heads the trauma center at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Two patients were transported and treated at the hospital after Thursday’s shooting, and were reported in satisfactory condition later that afternoon.
Speaking to members of the media, hospital officials described the uniqueness of this team in the region: PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center is the only Level 2 trauma center in Southwest Washington, meaning it’s the only hospital capable of responding to injuries of this scale.
“It’s all hands on deck to make sure we have all the materials, supplies and staff” needed to respond to a shooting, said Randy Querin, spokesman for the hospital.
There are five escalating levels of trauma centers in the United States, according to the American Trauma Center. Level 2 is the second highest level, with staff prepared to respond to the most serious illnesses and injuries. Level 1 centers have a teaching or research department, such as OHSU Hospital in Portland.
This department typically responds to car crashes, falls and other types of traumatic injuries.
“Our gunshot numbers are very low,” she said. Still, staff on this team have trained in cities with active trauma units and high rates of gun violence, she said, and drill for incidents like this at least once a year.
“We’re here to take care of patients in exactly these situations,” Timmons said.