Preparing for Active Shooter Incidents

PUBLISHED: Nov 9, 2018
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

The several incidents of mass gun violence of the last few weeks serve as an important reminder that active shooter incidents can happen anywhere, and health care facilities should prepare for the possibility of such events within their facilities. According to a 2015 report from Brown University, “…the incidence of hospital shootings has risen in the past decade and a half to become a monthly occurrence.”

There are several best practices that health care facilities can implement to prepare for an active shooter incident. Emergency preparedness should include consideration of the possibility of active shooter incidents. When preparing emergency response plans, facilities should:

  • Include local law enforcement in planning
  • Ensure local law enforcement has a way to access the facility (e.g., provided with a “Go Kit” that includes facility access badges)
  • Ensure local law enforcement is familiar with the building layout
  • Ensure local law enforcement knows the location of the Incident Command center

Security management plans should include the name and contact information for the law enforcement liaison officer for the organization. Further, each facility should have an “Active Shooter” communication plan that includes an emergency hotline with a recorded message for employees, a “script” for responding to calls from family members and processes for facility “lock-down”

Health care facilities should also have clearly documented processes and procedures to ensure patient and employee safety during an incident including but not limited to:

  • A method to account for employees and patients during an incident
  • A process for managing critical patients during an incident
  • A plan for potential loss of services and critical operations for a set number of hours after an event

Health care facilities should include preparation for active shooter incidents in their employee training plans. Such education should, at a minimum, include:

  • Reporting and responding to active shooter incidents
  • Interacting with law enforcement
  • Protecting patients
  • Risk mitigation in high risk areas (ER, Pharmacy)
  • Incident Command training and drills
  • Post incident debriefings

Included with today’s notice are several example policies and procedures related to the prevention and preparation of active shooter incidents.

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