LAS VEGAS – It’s not a singer, magician or showgirl that is in the longest-running show in Las Vegas. It is the Mattox Vegas TCCACS (Trauma, Critical Care & Acute Surgery) team, and it seems apropos this was the first sizeable conference to meet at Caesars Palace since the COVID-19 shutdown. The show was held April 12-14.
This conference and exhibition has been gathering at Caesars Palace for 54 years.
Like most events, aspects were noticeably different this year, with face coverings, social distancing, and health and safety top-of-mind. Typically, a TCCACS group of 1,300-1,400 gathers in the 25,000-square-foot Palace ballroom. This year, a group of 425 gathered in the 50,000-square-foot Octavius Ballroom, where the extra space enabled the group to socially distance by having 450 tables, one for each attendee. The group was international, with attendees coming from 19 countries and 49 states.
“It was fantastic,” said Mary K. Allen, TCCACS Program Coordinator. “All the attendees were ecstatic to be there meeting one-on-one with their colleagues.”
Most of the attendees are trauma surgeons, general surgeons, emergency physicians, anesthesiologists, trauma coordinators, surgical residents, thoracic surgeons, trauma nurses, APPs and EMS coordinators: The heroic individuals who are in the trenches dealing with the most complex medical and surgical challenges.
This year’s program included a virtual component to present the conference to an even larger audience. The information provided was especially timely, as it focused on continuing education in the treatment of critically ill and injured patients.
“It was poetic that this was the first sizeable group to come back. This is one of those groups that you can set your watch by, that has been meeting at Caesars since the hotel opened,” said Don Ross, VP of Catering/Convention Services.
A highlight of the conference was a dinner held at MR CHOW. Daniel Emmet, a top 10 finalist on season 13 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” performed for the group, even writing a few songs just for these frontline workers.
Allen worked with Jaki Baskow, owner of Baskow Talent and the Las Vegas Speakers Bureau, to book Emmet. “I knew the entertainer needed to be heartfelt for all in the audience, and Daniel was perfect. He ended his performance with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ adding words about COVID and the world today. The group jumped to their feet in a standing ovation,” Baskow said. “I knew he would be perfect to entertain this very special group that has seen such horrific things during the pandemic. I wanted it to be special, and it was.”
Allen was impressed with the way Caesars serviced the group, adhering to health and safety measures, but not skimping on quality or presentation.
“For instance, we kept our attendees in the conference room for Sunday lunch, and Caesars prepared five-star box lunches for them to enjoy at their individual tables,” explained Allen. “Another luncheon was seated and service was like all others in the past, except there weren’t any preset items.”
Planning the hybrid part of the program wasn’t without challenges. “I have planned on-site events all my life. Virtual is a new animal for me, and it was much more work than I ever expected. I couldn’t have done it all without the help of Caesars, Freeman, Encore and vFairs.”
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