Active Shooter Preparedness for Healthcare Facilities
It’s an unfortunate fact that due to design, access, and type of services rendered, most hospitals are extremely vulnerable to an active shooter event. They are susceptible because they typically have several open entrances to the building, the building is open 24 hours per day, many people are in the building, and like many other businesses, hospitals may have disgruntled employees, patients, or family members who are looking for revenge.
Active Shooter planning and preparedness is paramount in increasing an environment of safety for hospital staff, visitors, and patients. Because an active shooter event is typically over is less than 7 minutes, hospitals cannot afford to simply wait on police to arrive before they take actions. Time waiting may equate to lives lost. Therefore, it is vital that all hospitals engage in active shooter planning, training, and exercising.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a guide to help healthcare facilities with active shooter planning (.pdf). This guide is intended to assist healthcare organization with incorporating active shooter incident plans into their Emergency Operations Plan.
Safety experts from around the world agree that if an active shooter event occurs, persons in the danger zone basically have 3 choices to make. Those choices are: Run, Hide, or Fight.
These experts advise that if possible, the best option is to run away from the danger. If that isn’t possible, hide as best as you can and if in a room, barricade the door and turn off the lights. If both options 1 and 2 are impossible and you find yourself face to face with the shooter, you have no choice but to fight for your life.
Begin planning as soon as possible. Invite your local police department to meetings and exercises. Educate your staff on Run, Hide, or Fight. Exercise often and identify areas for improvement in you plan.
Attached is an Active Shooter Table-Top Power Point Presentation exercise.
Remember, the fewer people in the danger zone, the fewer the casualties.
- California Hospital Association
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Incorporating Active Shooter Incident Planning into Health Care Facility Emergency Operations Plans, Washington, DC, 2014.