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CERRITOS HIGH GRADUATE AMONG FIRST DOCTORS TO TREAT LAS VEGAS VICTIMS

LIFE SAVERS: Front (l-r)  Kevin Menes, MD, James Walker, DO. Back (l-r) Patrick Flores, DO, Michael Tang, DO. The four work at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Sunrise was the closest hospital to the Las Vegas massacre site. Photo courtesy of Kevin Menes.

LIFE SAVERS: Front (l-r) Kevin Menes, MD, James Walker, DO. Back (l-r) Patrick Flores, DO, Michael Tang, DO. The four work at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Sunrise was the closest hospital to the Las Vegas massacre site. Photo courtesy of Kevin Menes.

By Brian Hews and Tammye McDuff

It was an off night at the hospital. Dr. Kevin Menes who grew up in Cerritos and graduated from Cerritos High School told HMG-CN, “It really was a slow night, very quiet, I had only seen a couple dozen patients by 10:00 p.m.

But things would drastically change in the next few hours.

Menes works at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, and after graduating from Cerritos High then from UC Riverside with a medical degree, Menes went to Loma Linda University specializing in emergency medicine.

“As an emergency medicine ER doctor you need to know how to do a little bit of everything,” he said.

Menes would draw on all his skills that night; Sunrise Hospital was the closest hospital to the recent massacre in Las Vegas.

Menes recalled most of the staff hanging around the front desk ‘just joking around’ when a call came in stating there was a mass casualty shooting.

“We get these fairly often,” said Menes, “more often than not, it is a false alarm and nothing happens.”

A police officer had been standing by near the staff, and Menes could overhear the officer’s radio chatter; it was different than other calls.

Menes is a volunteer medic for the Las Vegas S.W.A.T. Team, so he grabbed his own police radio to listen to the calls, only then he realized this was not a false alarm.

Menes said, “Instead of bothering the officer, I went down to my car and grabbed my police radio. I heard the words ‘automatic gunfire’ and ‘concert’ … I knew this was serious, because the concerts we have here are big.”

Menes realized that the ER was likely going to receive hundreds of victims.

The emergency room immediately went into action; all doctors were called into the emergency.

Within minutes, the ambulance bay became full of gurneys and wheelchairs, “You could hear the sirens in the distance get louder and louder, the first vehicles to arrive were the police cruisers, there were sometimes five injured in the police vehicles,” recalled Menes.

The hospital has a ‘tag’ system that will let staff know what stage the victim is in from non-life threatening to deceased. There was a ‘station’ for each color tag. Placing each victim in the correct station is critical and multiple doctors often check patients in order to verify injuries.

As medical doctors of the ER, their sole function is to stabilize or bring victims back to life and then hand them over to specialized doctors.

“Initially it was the police vehicles that were dropping off victims, then the ambulances loaded with casualties, and then injured people were arriving in the back of pickup trucks,” said Menes.

“They were regular folks who were bringing in victims literally by the truck load, Uber drivers and taxis were also transporting the injured.”

“I had less than ten seconds to analyze each person that came in.”

The amount of injured placed great stress on the system. Victims were going through triage, into surgery, being tagged as non-critical and then unexpectedly crashing.

Menes interned in Detroit for three years, “I learned how to deal with all types of gunshot wounds. I was working over 120 hours a week, in order to learn you have to be present at the hospital.” That experience likely saved several lives.

“At one point there were three or four patients crashing at the same time. I told the nurses to bring all the patients over into one area and put the gurneys’ into a circle around me, with their heads facing inward … like a flower.”

They all received drugs or oxygen or whatever it was they needed, in order to keep everyone alive. After stabilizing each person, they were sent to a trauma surgeon, to decide who would go into the operating room next.

Between 10:30 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., Menes saw over 250 patients. In the first few hours he did 28 surgeries – 58 surgeries in 24 hours – finally totaling an astounding 83 surgeries.

“It was a tragedy, my colleagues and I did the best we could, hopefully we saved some lives.”

Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor recently awarded Sunrise Hospital with a Certificate of Merit and letter of gratitude for heroic actions during and immediately following the Mandalay Bay Massacre.

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