Your recent article “Security lapses” highlighted the importance of preparing hospital staff to respond to an active threat, such as a shooter, while on the job. The threat of a shooter in a hospital is not just fodder for television dramas; it is a real risk that hospitals face on a regular basis.
Hospitals need to prepare for security threats
Recognizing the need for this crucial training, last year the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council created a program to assist hospitals in their emergency preparedness planning, specifically addressing the threat of an active shooter in their facility. The program, “Hospital Response to an Active Threat—What Would Your Staff Do?” was developed with consultants who are local law enforcement officers with extensive tactical training and experience. Eight courses were facilitated throughout Illinois in 2010-11, educating representatives from more than 96 hospitals.
The course is not only a presentation of facts, figures and policies for “what you should do if,” but a unique educational experience that provides each attendee with special knowledge, awareness and competency that may be, literally, lifesaving. Presented with a mindful approach that uses interaction and discussion, the architects of this program turn each attendee’s own intuition into an “informed intuition.” The course enables hospitals to develop proactive approaches and policies based on the concepts of preparation, application and repetition to attain unconscious competence when faced with an alarming situation. A portion of the session is devoted to developing the attendee into a “trainer” for other hospital staff.
This type of training is taking place in elementary schools, high schools, and college campuses across the country. It is time to prepare hospital staff for these life-threatening events that are occurring with increasing frequency in healthcare facilities.
Linnea O’NeillDirector of clinical servicesMetropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council
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