Aurora studies emergency response to movie theater shootings

AURORA, Colo. - The Aurora City Council has commissioned a study of the emergency response to the July 20 theater shootings that killed 12 people and left 70 injured.

The Aurora Sentinel reports the $249,000 study was approved Monday.

The goal is to identify what went well and areas for improvement.

Incident reports and an internal review by the fire department show police and fire officials failed to tell each other when and where rescuers were needed following the July 20 shooting, which left 12 dead and 70 injured. Those reports didn't offer any conclusions or recommendations.

Police Chief Dan Oates says it's important to document the response, saying some emergency personnel were "superheroes" that night.

Lessons learned at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora has already helped another hospital -- Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. They had been studying the response to the Aurora movie theater shooting , when 23 victims were rushed to the Colorado hospital for treatment.

In Boston, emergency chair Dr. Ron Walls knew "23" needed to be the new threshold for trauma care at his hospital. The day of the marathon bombing, the Boston hospital also had 23 patients.

"We raised our game. We elevated our game because of what had happened in Colorado," said Dr. Walls.  "Can you take care of 23 patients in a very short period of time, in the course of an hour. We were able to deploy multiple teams and have that readiness," he said.

The city of Aurora delayed the response study earlier this year at the request of the district attorney, who said it could jeopardize the prosecution of James Holmes, who is charged with murder and attempted murder.

Oates says the prosecution has now progressed far enough that the study won't be a problem.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Holmes. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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