An off-duty police officer pretending to be a terrorist stormed into a hospital intensive care unit brandishing a handgun, which he pointed at nurses while herding them down a corridor and into a room. There, after harrowing moments, he explained that the whole caper was a training exercise. The staff at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals-Siena Campus, where the incident took place May 24, found the exercise more traumatizing than instructive. Just last year, Henderson police shot and killed an armed, hostile man in the emergency room, so security and emergency preparedness have been a focus. But in the May 24 incident, which occurred in a unit that houses the hospital’s sickest patients, nurses, patients, and their families did not know it was a drill, said the organizer of the California Nurses Association, which represents staff at the hospital. The union is investigating the incident. Many people saw the gunman, she said, and the union is gathering statements and talking to hospital administrators. The director of public policy and external affairs for the hospital, apologized for any distress caused by the incident. There has been an “ongoing effort to try and make (emergency preparedness drills) as realistic as possible,” he said. He said as many as 10 employees were involved in the incident and no one was hurt. The actor was from a local police department. The staff was supposed to have been told in advance of the exercise, but there was a “disconnect,” he said. State regulators who license hospitals said the incident may warrant investigation, depending on whether patient care was compromised.

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