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Could Grady Hospital handle a mass shooting emergency situation?

Here's how the hospital prepares.

ATLANTA — The nation is in mourning after two communities in the U.S. deal with tragedies where gun violence erupted, killing and injuring dozens.

Authorities said 22 people died from a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday. In Dayton, Ohio, nine people - including the gunman's sister - died in the shooting, and 27 others were injured early Sunday morning.

Seeing the chaotic images has some asking the question: What happens if something like this were to happen here in Atlanta? Would officials and hospital staffs be ready to respond?

11Alive went to the experts to find out.

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Dr. Hany Atallah is the chief of emergency medicine at Grady Hospital. He believes that not if, but when, a mass shooting takes place in this region, it's going to be difficult for Grady to handle a major influx of wounded victims. However, he said there is a plan. 

"Even a hospital the size of Grady is going to struggle taking care of that many patients," he said. "We drill at a minimum twice a year to make sure that we are ready."

If multiple people are wounded in a mass shooting in the area, Grady would be the lead trauma hospital and handle the most critical. They will then coordinate their efforts with 23 other metro hospitals and prioritize who goes where. 

"We would decide on which patients are sent to one hospital, depending on acuity, and then, we ourselves are prepared to take on the most serious patients that are injured in whatever incidents might occur," Dr. Atallah said.

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Some of their training comes from recent tragedies across the nation. For example, 59 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting at a country music concert. 

"We learn from our colleagues who have unfortunately went through similar incidents in other cities," he said.

"It's never going to be 100 percent smooth," he added. "You can plan and prepare, but at the same time you have to be ready for the unexpected and every situation is certainly unique." 

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