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Arm Your Staff with 7 Tips for Armed Intruder Preparedness

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Arm Your Staff with 7 Tips for Armed Intruder Preparedness

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Tips for Armed Intruder Preparedness

If you’re like me, you’ll be shocked to discover the number of shooting incidents in medical practices across the country.  In just a few minutes of searching online I found several real shooting incidents in real medical practices.  Here are just a few:

  • A man fatally shot a receptionist at a KY clinic;
  • A husband fatally shot his wife while she worked at an AL internal medicine office;
  • An angry, terminated employee shot a physician with a shotgun at his NY office.

These incidents don’t just happen in big cities or in hospitals. They are occurring in both big cities and small towns, and in practices of all sizes.

So, I started to wonder, “Are most medical practices prepared for such a horrifying event?” And the answer is a resounding, “No”, even though your medical practice is required by CMS to conduct an “all hazards risk assessment” as part of their Emergency Compliance Plan by November 2017.

The problem is, no one wants to believe that this could happen at their practice or in their town. However, based on the facts, this is a terrible mistake. And, although you can’t know when something like this is actually going to happen, you can take several actions that will significantly improve the outcome should someone walk into your practice with a gun and start firing.

Here are several of the practical, realistic active shooter and armed intruder protection strategies attendees to this online training will receive:

  • Learn The 4 Outs method so your staff can protect themselves during an active shooter event
  • Accurately evaluate whether your staff and providers are really ready for a shooting emergency
  • Identify and recognize the different types of active shooter events and take the right action
  • Successfully incorporate an active shooter event response into your emergency prep plan
  • Protect yourself by incorporating all 4 of CMS’s Emergency Preparedness revised standards

In addition to these protection strategies, here are a few things you can do now:

  • Review Your Security: This includes staff identification, security cameras, access to any materials that can be weaponized, etc.
  • Prepare Communication: Plan for how and what you’ll communicate with staff as well as first responders in the event of an armed intruder.  Identify a primary point of contact at your office, and ensure they know what to do.
  • Raise Awareness: Identify the warning signs (aggression, fixation on an employee or situation, and verbal threats)  and consider possible offender sources (former and current employees and patients and their families, and  visitors).
  • Organize Response: Have a clear, easy to understand response plan.
  • Secure Resources: Make sure you have sufficient security personnel, cameras, etc.
  • Plan Patient Care: Know how you will protect your patients and treat those that are wounded, if necessary.
  • Collaborate with First Responders: Form a relationship with local first responders. Have them review your emergency preparedness plans and get their input.

Although planning may seem tedious and daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Implementing even a simple plan is better than no plan at all.  And, while you can never know exactly when an armed intruder will walk into your practice shooting, you can take several actions to protect yourself, your staff and your patients.   The main goal is for us all to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Take Aways:

  • Any plan is better than no plan. Start simple and enlist help from key members of your organization.
  • Effective communication is key and can save lives. Ensure a solid communication plan is in place both for internal communication as well as communication with first responders.
  • Plan for the unexpected. It’s often the surprises that catch staff off guard, but if they are armed with the right decision-making framework they won’t skip a beat in the face of danger.


National healthcare safety, security, and risk management expert, Steve Wilder, BA, CHSP, STS, conducted a 90-minuted training session, Proven Emergency Preparedness Training for Active Shooter and Armed Intruder in Healthcare Practices, where you’ll learn exactly how to improve your chances of survival should you ever end up in an active shooter or armed intruder situation.