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Hospitals and active shooters are quite possibly the worst combination. Staff don’t have to worry just about saving themselves and staying out of harm’s way, they need to care for and protect patients, some already in life threatening situations.

In fact, the most common area for an active shooter incident is the Emergency Department, where 29% of all hospital shootings take place.

From ER docs to security and facilities staff, active shooters touch every element of the hospital system. While active shooting incidents are rare, according to the FBI, from 2000 to 2013 there were 160 incidents in hospitals in the U.S. The healthcare community recognizes the need for planning and coordination of emergency responders; just last month, the National Academy of Medicine released a discussion paper on active shooters.

Communication is key to mitigate casualties and improve response times during an active shooter incident. Seconds can mean the difference between life and death; hospitals must have plans, procedures and exercise to ensure an effective, integrated response during these stressful and chaotic events. The right teams of people need to come together to:

  • Notify staff of the threat relevant to their location
  • Notify security in the hospital
  • Coordinate with local authorities if needed
  • Triage and care for people who incur injuries during the incident
  • Work with nearby hospitals to divert patients and request help

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