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Tragic events, including a 2017 shooting at an Ohio nursing home that killed three people and recent deadly mass shootings, bring well-needed attention to the importance of healthcare facilities taking the necessary steps to prepare for a potential active shooter/armed intruder scenario.
An active shooter event can and does happen in in all types of healthcare facilities, and in all sizes of communities and towns. Healthcare safety and security expert Steven Wilder offers important guidance on how to prepare your facility and train all staff members on the proper course of action when an incident does occur to ensure the best possible outcome.
Planning and training are a critical part of surviving an active shooter/armed intruder attack, according to Wilder. He recommends healthcare facilities address four critical planning and training steps to prepare for a potential event.
1. Perform a Security Vulnerability Assessment, which looks at some key things within your organization:
2. Develop an Active Shooter Emergency Response Plan that is focused on healthcare. Healthcare facilities have unique challenges in developing a plan that not only addresses employees’ survival but also the survival of patients or residents as well. Develop a plan with a survival mindset, Wilder says, to include:
Do not assume others have already called
Continue to try if there’s a busy signal
Give pertinent information (if known):
Name of shooter | Description | Location | Number and type of weapons
3. Develop a Training Program consistent with your plan and tailored to your specific environment of care. Trained and untrained people usually respond in completely different ways, according to Wilder. Both will be afraid, that is a normal human response. But a trained person will recall what they’ve learned through their training and so will be much better prepared. Survival is a result of training, Wilder says.
Training should be both classroom and hands on and should include every employee from the newest through the administrator to the CEO. Provide a range of options and choices for occupants to make safe decisions in the shortest time possible.
For facilities that have residents to worry about, Wilder recommends the use of a Safety Action Plan commonly called the “Four Outs,” which is becoming a national model in the long-term care industry:
4. Plan for Recovery, which is a very critical, but often the most overlooked part, of a crisis event, says Wilder. Recovery may take days, weeks or months to happen. Resources to help facilitate recovery for employees, residents/patients, and your physical facility can include:
About our expert: Steven Wilder is President & CEO of Sorensen, Wilder & Associates, which has worked with more than 150 hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the U.S. Mr. Wilder has spent more than 30 years in safety, security and risk management. Before founding his own firm, he served as the corporate director of safety and security for a major healthcare system with nine hospitals and 15 long-term care facilities.