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In the midst of tragedy: DL native working at Las Vegas hospital helps handle shooting crisis

Erica Nansen is a Detroit Lakes native who helped work the phones of a very hectic Las Vegas hospital as families and friends of possible victims of the Sunday night shooting were frantically calling to see if their loved ones were there. (submitted photo)

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, which killed 59 people and left 527 injured, Americans are reeling—and many are reaching out. One woman, Erica Nansen, who was "born and raised" in Detroit Lakes actually lives, in Las Vegas now. For the last four years, she has been working at the University Medical Center, the hospital that treated a majority of the shooting victims, and she spoke with the DL Tribune about what she is seeing as the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States unfolds.

"Our trauma center was so busy," recalled Nansen. "Patients were literally brought in continuously for hours."

Nansen said to an outsider, it certainly would have looked like "chaos" but, to someone who works there, it was just all hands on deck; everyone knew their role and was quick to act.

The University Medical Center, which is just off the south side of the Las Vegas strip, is a level-1 trauma center, said Nansen, so they are trained to handle mass casualties.

"We prepare for this," she said, adding that they actually just treated a large group of patients who were injured in a bus accident. "...but not at this magnitude."

She said they had 104 patients admitted, 12 of them were critical, and four passed away.

With that many people admitted so quickly, Nansen says the phones were ringing off the hooks with family members calling, wondering if their loved ones had been admitted.

"Most of the patients are from out-of-state," said Nansen, adding that it only makes the situation messier, trying to identify people and get in touch with families.

And, on the other end, news stations were making calls to their facility, many of which Nansen fielded, her job title being a volunteer program and community relations supervisor.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the hospital had discharged roughly 40 patients, meaning they are still treating a majority of patients, many of whom have gunshot wounds.

"A couple of people were trampled," said Nansen, "but a majority of the injuries were gunshot wounds."

Nansen says many are still shocked by the incident, but she is choosing to focus on the heroes, rather than "the one evil person."

"I always knew Las Vegas had a great community...It's amazing how many people have stopped by to give water, and food, and donate to the blood drive," she said, adding that their line to donate blood was seven hours long.

"I want people to focus on the thousands of heroes. They didn't run away from the fire—they ran at it," she said.