NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – For the first time in four years, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters held a joint mass casualty drill Saturday morning.

As part of the drill, more than 50 volunteer “patients” wore makeup that represented gunshot wounds and injuries from being trampled after a mass shooting at a public event in Town Point Park.

A hospital official said the drill was designed to stress the two hospitals’ ability to respond to a large number of trauma patients and getting them to what’s known as “definitive care” as soon as possible. That’s while working to keep the emergency department available to receive more patients.

Sentara Emergency Management Director Patti Montes said the knowledge gained from other major trauma events around the U.S. helps them move more patients out of the emergency department quicker and into other areas of the hospital to continue getting the care they need. She said the number of people the hospital will get in such a scenario is never correct – “it frequently goes up, or it goes down.”

“We’re taking lessons learned from across the country and applying them here,” Montes said. “(The) ED can stabilize, but we’re not the definitive treatment in the ED. We need to move them to those areas of the hospital where they can really receive that definitive treatment so that the ED can keep receiving patients, because right now, with this particular scenario, we don’t know how many patients we have, technically. We do, but artificially we don’t, and that’s true in real life. … We have to be able to flex and respond to what’s rolling through the doors.”

The two hospitals held a debrief immediately following the drill to look at what worked well and what could be improved, with the findings going into an after-action report to be shared with all Hampton Roads-area hospitals.

The drill had not been held in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sentara and CHKD had assistance from the Kempsville Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Chesapeake Fire Department and Norfolk Fire-Rescue.