What with all the headlines that Congressional debating of healthcare reform is getting, tempers are flaring. But hospital workers, nurses and doctors constantly see more common incidents from gun violence and bomb threats.
In the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team to provide training for hostage and shooting situations. Nearly 100 employees from Good Shepherd and the nine other Advocate hospitals attended a seminar earlier this week to learn about communication, effective tactics and their roles. The biggest development: the code silver system Good Shepherd is implementing in the event of a shooting. Just as code blue refers to a medical emergency, some hospitals use silver to denote a person with a weapon. When “code silver shooter” is activated, staff within the building is supposed to close doors to rooms and offices and if possible, lock and barricade them. Active-shooter incidents in the post-Columbine era last an average of just eight minutes, and such a narrow window of time means the carnage may be over before police can even get to the scene. Healthcare workers are also among the most likely of any occupation to be assaulted, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
Gun and bomb threats happen almost every day somewhere is the U.S. For instance, Los Angeles police are investigating whether a shooting in the parking lot of a San Fernando Valley hospital is gang-related. A gunman opened fire at a group of people who were sitting on a bench in the parking lot outside of Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys. And, also this week, a south-central Kansas hospital has reopened after a bomb threat forced it to evacuate. Police reported that a clerk at Sumner Regional Medical Center received a threatening phone call about a device near the emergency room.
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