A former airman armed with an assault rifle killed four people and wounded 23 others in a rampage at Fairchild Air Force Base hospital in Spokane, Wash., last week before being shot and killed by an Air Force security patrolman.
A multi-agency disaster plan, responding to its first actual incident, worked smoothly. Victims were triaged at four major downtown hospitals, said Priscilla Gilkey, spokeswoman for two of the hospitals, Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center, which are part of the Empire Health Services system.
Holy Family Hospital and Sacred Heart Medical Center also treated victims.
Dean Mellberg, who was discharged from service last May for a character and personality disorder, first entered the base hospital annex and shot to death psychiatrist Maj. Thomas Brigham and psychologist Capt. Alan London. The doctors had evaluated him while he was stationed at Fairchild from April 1993 to March 1994.
Mr. Mellberg then entered the main hospital building and started shooting randomly, said Master Sgt. Scott Boatwright, a base spokesman.
Several of the most critically wounded patients were triaged to Deaconess, a 388-bed tertiary-care and trauma facility 15 miles east of the base. Deaconess assembled five extra operating room teams, 15 extra emergency room nurses, two extra emergency room physicians and 25 to 50 additional nurses hospitalwide, Ms. Gilkey said.
"The hospital system really did respond well," she added. "Cooperation among all of the agencies played a big part in getting the victims to the respective hospitals and treated. `A lot of miracles happened last night,' an emergency room physician said."