We have heard a lot from the media on active shooter events throughout the U.S., but how many of these include healthcare facilities? The Homeland Security and the FBI define “active shooter” as “an event where one or more persons actively engage in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” Statistics show active shooter incidents involving healthcare facilities are less common than other events, but they can occur, so planning may save lives.
Because hospitals are open to the public with many entrances and exits, securing the building presents specific challenges. Hospitals serve some vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or handicapped. Many are unable to run from the situation which places them at higher risk.
According to a John Hopkins study on hospital shootings, many took place outside the building or near the entrances, so metal detectors could not have prevented these events. The same study indicated that from 2000 to 2011 there were 154 hospital-based shootings. 30 percent of these occurred in emergency departments.
What have you done to train staff on Active Shooter events? Hospitals are required by CMS to include workplace violence education into Emergency Preparedness planning and training. However, clinics and other healthcare organizations may also need to initiate training. In developing plans, you should first assess for safe areas and exits. Have an emergency number to activate local law enforcement.
With any active shooter situation, be aware of your environment and any possible dangers. If possible, look for at least two of the nearest exits whenever you are in any facility. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, should you be involved in an Active Shooter event, remember run, hide, fight.
Additional Safety Tips:
You may not prevent all shooter events but putting processes in place for becoming more aware of situations that may trigger an event can save lives.
Teresa Fields, Debbie Franklin, Marie Howatt, and Lisa Rawlings are with Inspirien. www.inspirien.net
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