St. Vincent Warrick employees took part in a mock shooter drill recently that included Boonville police officers using paintball guns to take out a fake shooter in the emergency room on Thursday, Nov. 16 at St. Vincent Warrick.
The mock drills have been taking place on the St. Vincent Evansville campus for years but this was the first year that St. Vincent Warrick conducted a live exercise.
"We'll probably have them annually from now on," said St. Vincent Safety Officer Keith Kahre. "And move them to different locations in the hospital."
Kahre said the overarching exercise was centered around a husband and wife having marital problems.
"The wife worked here as a nurse, the husband comes in, confronts her," he said, "and obviously as he comes in to the (emergency department), he starts shooting."
Kahre said some of the hospital employees were shot as role players.
"And other people that were in the (emergency department)," he said. "And then he grabs his wife and then once Boonville police came in and confronted him, they got her free and neutralized him."
Kahre said the goal is to test the preparedness and response of medical staff and local responders in case a real life crisis may occur.
"You know with today's things that are taking place in other locations," he said, "we have to be ready for anything and this is just one of the things we have to be ready for."
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Kahre said the drill wasn't inspired by the recent mass shootings in the country, as it had been scheduled since July.
"It's always unfortunate when a tragedy occurs and recent events in cities like Las Vegas and New York make this training even more valuable," he said. "This drill allows us to develop the best practices and assurance that we have prepared ourselves for the worst if a disaster were to occur."
Kahre said although the drill was not influenced by the recent mass shootings, he did say the shootings amplify the necessity for the drill.
"It's not just a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "It's something we know that's taken place across the country. There's a history obviously of these shooting situations."
Kahre said there is also a history of hospitals being targets of shootings.
"So we know that we are a soft target and what do we need to do to you know provide better protection," he said. "But yet not be to the point where you know we're looking like we're some institution like a lock down facility. So we need to be welcoming to our patients and our families but also on the other hand, we have to provide some diligence and protection."
Kahre said he examined how past hospitals reacted during shooting incidents to prepare for the drill.
"We always look at anything that happens at different locations," he said. "And say, 'OK how can we apply that to here.' You know what's the take home messages for any situation like that."
Kahre said the Boonville Police Department had a big and important role in the drill.
"They are obviously getting all of the information as far as what the police response is and what are the latest tactics and what should they do and so forth," he said. "So when we marry those up together, we can have an exercise like this that is meaningful."
Boonville Police Chief Daryl Saltzman said the mock shooter drill at St. Vincent Warrick is not something new to the department. In fact, he said it is something other local Boonville organizations are requesting to have as well.
"We're running into the situation where churches are wanting active shooter drills for their parsonage," he said. "And we've been doing it for years at the school level."
Saltzman said the school drills are much less intense than the one conducted at St. Vincent Warrick.
Saltzman said the purpose of drill at St. Vincent Warrick was to give the hospital staff an understanding of what the officer's response time would be in a real life situation.
"That is just one of the big things for them to realize," he said, "how long or how quickly things happen."
Saltzman said a Boonville police officer can respond within a minute or two.
"Our complete scenario happened in 1:25 seconds," he said. "We can't train anymore real life then what we do with the simulations."
Kahre said there are three things everyone has to understand in order to be prepared for a shooter.
The first is to run.
"Get away from it as far as you can," he said. "You know, get out of the building. Get a hard, solid object between you and the shooter."
The next is to hide.
"If you can't run or the shooter is blocking you," he said, "then you got to hide."
The last is to fight.
"Distract the shooter," he said. "Throw things at him or her. You know, fight because literally at that point in time, you are in a fight for your life. Because that is the only way to survive these. Because if you hesitate, wait, bad things happen."
Kahre said people should not be ignorant or entitled to think that a mass shooting couldn't happen in their own hometown and to them.
"This is reality so the first thing you can't do is hide and put your head in the sand and say 'it's not going to happen to me,' " he said. "This is another aspect of keeping our associates and our patients and our families safe because we know this is an issue so we are going to respond to it, not say, 'we'll it's never going to happen here.' That's not acceptable."