Safety Strategies for Hospitals
In the past five years, the United States has witnessed an intense surge of active shooter incidents. Events include mass shootings such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Florida, Columbine high school shooting in Colorado, and the Aurora theater shootings in Colorado, to name just a few. All of these terrible events, and many more like them, have shown the complexities that can stress emergency management and public safety personnel.
Many of these shooters are very young and have extensive knowledge about firearms and explosives. The Aurora shooter, for instance, used secondary devices to attempt to ambush investigators at his apartment. These complex incidents clearly illustrate that first responders, and emergency managers must always be prepared to adapt their strategies. Coordinating strategies and tactics before, during, and after incidents will help protect first responders and potential victims.
Active-shooter incidents have targeted all forms of soft and hard targets. Among soft targets, hospitals are among the hardest to defend against armed-intruder incidents. Unlike most other soft-target facilities, hospitals have lifesaving operations that cannot stop. Most have operating rooms, maternity wards, and critical care units where lifesaving or life-stabilizing activities are continuous. Alternatively, hospitals may have emergency departments, critical care units, or ancillary/satellite facilities like nursing homes with patients/residents who lack vision, hearing, mobility, or have extreme issues with basic life support functions. This makes it nearly impossible for such facilities to effectively evacuate during active shooter incidents. 1
How Hospitals Can Combat Active-Shooter Situations Effectively.
Communication is always a top issue in active-shooter situations and many other disasters. Meeting with surrounding fire and EMS departments, law enforcement, county and state emergency/disaster offices, health departments, the Red Cross and similar private organizations, elected officials, and neighboring hospital emergency managers on a regular basis will dramatically expand awareness of community and regional problems, increase training opportunities, strengthen mutual aid relationships, and even improve access to grants.
THREAT AND VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENTS
Threat assessments are extremely important for healthcare facilities. When conducting threat/vulnerability assessments, it is important to understand the complexities of the healthcare industry and prioritize departments by their vulnerabilities.
These assessments will expose weaknesses and strengths. Take this information and apply it to preplanning, grant research, policy reform, and emergency response. Be sure to incorporate all satellite offices or related facilities. Ideally, hospitals should conduct an assessment for each facility for optimal security for patients, employees, and visitors.
To improve the security of a facility, one must either have budget funds or grant funding. Once threat assessments are complete, the hospital’s emergency management team must prioritize security architecture needs. Security measures can be costly, so it is important to conduct efficient research and provide data to executive teams to illustrate their importance.
Each facility has different budget hurdles as well as different threats/vulnerabilities, which makes it important to engage in a thorough assessment and discuss emergency management priorities before adding security architecture. Some improvements are not necessarily costly, such as numbering the outsides of patient/resident windows for emergency responders. This allows law enforcement and fire service personnel to identify room locations from the outside of the structure for swift and safe removal of victims.
Lack of effective communications is often the largest problem in critical incidents. Communication to those outside the hospital system—EMTs/paramedics, firefighters, and police officers—is critical. Utilizing fast and easy communication to first responders and law enforcement about the threat and its location are key to mitigating injury, death, and risk.
How ASR Can Help
ASR Alert Systems is a state-of-the-art patented critical incident response technology specializing in the field of threat alert notifications to local Law Enforcement and First Responders in the event of a crisis. The threat notification capabilities include Active Shooter/Assailant, Medical Emergencies, Severe Weather, Security Issues, and more. Here is how it works.
ASR is wholly dedicated to saving time to save lives and we approach our critical incident response technology from the perspective of those responding to crisis events. ASR offers the best critical incident response technology solution in the industry. Our reliable and redundant methods of alerting persons who are in danger, as well as providing the fastest notification to law enforcement by communicating directly with police dispatch are not matched. Our patented critical incident response technology uses hard-mounted buttons, mobile pendants, and a mobile phone application to DIRECTLY communicate with first responders in the area to significantly decrease response times to an active threat or crisis situation. Communicating DIRECTLY with first responders is what makes ASR different from every other system on the market, we hold the patent on this technology.
Emergency managers must remain adaptable. Threats such as active shooters always evolve in response to our preparations. Being proactive today will help your organization to better protect the safety of its employees and patrons while at the same time, reducing the financial risk of not being prepared should an incident occur.