Hospital Safety Plan: How to Manage an Active Shooter

The key to managing an active shooter in a hospital or medical center is to create a hospital safety plan for this type of incident. History has proven that violence can erupt anywhere and at any time. 

Why do Hospitals need Active Shooter Training?

2012 study by Annals of Emergency Medicine found there were over 150 hospital shootings across the United States from 2000-2011.

During this short time-frame, approximately 30 percent of those shooting occurred in emergency rooms. These hospital shootings occurred in 40 states and 235 people were injured or died.

A majority of hospitals have an emergency response and hospital safety plan for most crises. However, they often lack plans for active shooter scenarios.

Hospitals should use the 3Ps:

  • Plan,
  • Prepare, and
  • Practice

Additionally, there are often an unaccounted number of visitors; particularly during visiting hours, with limited to no knowledge of any hospital safety plan.


Guidelines for a Hospital Safety Plan for an Active Shooter

When creating a hospital safety plan, reference these guidelines for assistance

  • Develop an alert specifically for an intruder. If there is an intruder on site, any staff member should have the authority and the ability to place the hospital into an “emergency lockdown.”
  • Install a PA system that reaches all hospital inhabitants. Hospitals who have such alerts and codes in place utilize a notification system to get the information out to the entire facility as quickly as possible.
  • Once administration alerts the staff, staff can respond by taking action. These actions should be in the form of evacuation or shelter-in-place and deny access (also known as a barricade).
    • Evacuation may only be available to certain individuals within the hospital, as others may be restricted, if they are responsible for dependent patients. Capable individuals should only consider evacuation if you know the location of the threat.
    • Barricades are appropriate for staff who do not have enough information as to where the threat is, or if they are responsible for the direct care of patients. When barricading, put into place any blockades that deter an armed assailant from gaining entry into any areas. Staff should arm themselves, and be prepared to fight an intruder.
  • Once there is a “lull in the battle” call 911. Once the first few decisions have been made (i.e. evacuate vs. barricade) and there appears to be time, you should inform law enforcement. Never assume the police have been notified.
  • Do not end a lockdown until police issue an “all-clear.” At this point, staff should resume care to the patients immediately and safety teams should complete an after-action report.

Special Considerations for a Hospital Safety Plan

  • EMERGENCY ROOM: If an active shooter incident erupts in the emergency room, staff need to make a decision quickly. Unlike the information just presented, there will most likely be no preemptive notification for staff and visitors in the ER. The gunfire, bomb or screaming will trigger the response. The responses will be similar to the items just listed, but will move faster. Some staff may find that they move immediately to the fighting phase by arming themselves or charging the perpetrator.
  • TREATMENT FOR THE WOUNDED: A final challenge to the hospital would be treatment. Each hospital must assess whether they could manage and treat a mass number of critically wounded patients. If a hospital is incapable of treating a mass number of injuries, there needs to be guidelines in place to move patients to another hospital.

However, every hospital and medical center presents their own unique and separate challenges. That is why it is important to create a customized plan that fits your medical hospital’s unique needs.

In order to be ahead of the curve when it comes to hospital shootings; hospitals must plan, prepare, and practice.

That is why the Guardian Defense team developed the active shooter training for hospitals and would like to share our knowledge with you to help your hospital create a customized training plan. We will help you to plan, prepare AND practice for the worst-case scenario… so you and your hospital staff have the knowledge and understanding to practice with confidence again and again.

Are You Ready to Get Prepared?

To gain instant access to Active Threat Response Training Information, visit our homepage, scroll down to the video and watch our Free Training: 5 Immediate Actions You MUST Know When Confronted By an Active Shooter!

If you are want to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists, click here , or call us at 954-654-8912.

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About Steven S. Smith

Steven S. Smith, the President and Founder of Guardian Defense, offers active shooter training programs to staff within schools, colleges, churches, law enforcement agencies, businesses, and hospitals; in order to build confidence and save time in the event of an intruder, active shooter or killer, or other terror attack. Mr. Smith is a current certified law enforcement officer and has a range of experience on school and public safety, and investigation work. He is currently a team leader and instructor on the SWAT Team, for which he joined in 2009. Mr. Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a concentration in Criminal Justice, in 2005 from Nova Southeastern University.