Are You Prepared for a Hospital Shooting?

Emergency sign When you went into medicine, did you ever think that you’d have to be prepared to fend off a shooter in your place of employment? It’s a sad fact that the phenomenon of disturbed individuals deciding to take out their anger/frustration/alienation on innocent individuals in public places isn’t going away. And, as a result, hospitals are starting to formally prepare to defend themselves against such individuals.

An article on MedPageToday.com entitled, “How to Survive a Hospital Shooting,” reported on a recent symposium that took place at Johns Hopkins looking at how staff should prepare to defend and care for individuals in this situation.

Sadly, hospital shootings aren’t as rare as you might think. According to an Annals of Internal Medicine 2012 study, there were 154 shootings in 40 states between 2000 and 2011. Approximately thirty percent of the shootings took place in the emergency department. Preparing for such shootings presents unique challenges. First, the article describes how health care providers are specifically trained to help individuals –and not to necessarily think about self-preservation even in a situation that clearly warrants it. And, self preservation in a hospital shooting is particularly important, because providers will be needed to help others who have been shot. Quite simply, they can’t help others if they either foolishly, or heroically, put themselves in harm’s way. Previous hospital shootings have shown this. The article suggests that specific medical teams be designated as “first responders” –and that those individuals get consent from their significant others. These individuals would then know how to respond and others would know who is in charge. All employees should also know how they may be communicated with during an emergency –if it’s via text, e-mail, intercom, etc.

The article goes on to describe three zones in shooter situations: hot, warm, cold, and how to respond in each. See the article for further details.

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