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Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Prepares in Case of an Active Assailant


Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

From a concert in Las Vegas to a Virginia Beach municipal building, mass shootings unfortunately are becoming more common across the country. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, is among the Johns Hopkins entities training and preparing for such an emergency.

In May, Johns Hopkins All Children’s hosted three live-action active assailant drills in the hospital’s emergency department, known as the Emergency Center, during a 24-hour period to accommodate staff on all shifts. A week before the exercises, participants received a 15-minute training on appropriate actions during such an incident, including the national protocol Run, Hide, Fight.

“A hospital is considered a ‘soft target’ due to the many access points into the facility, as well as the desire to welcome patients and visitors in and to expedite care needs,” says Cheri Collins, environmental health and safety specialist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. “Family dynamics, especially those involving young patients like ours, can aggravate situations and escalate to threatening behavior or even violence. We want to be prepared in the event that a situation becomes unsafe for our staff and patients.”

Each unannounced exercise lasted approximately five minutes and mimicked real-life scenarios. A member of the safety department portrayed an active assailant. Participants also included other security and safety personnel as well as clinical and administrative staff members. There were signs and handouts too, and staff explained the training to patients and families while ensuring there was no interruption to patient care.

Staff responded quickly during the drill, Collins says, exiting the building and calling the hospital’s internal emergency phone number to alert security, which then contacted local police. Others hid in rooms and found equipment to fight with if needed. Staff members entering a secure area by swiping their badges were taught to close and block doors.

The safety and security team plans to continue trainings and drills for each department at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, with a focus on areas of heightened risk.

“In an emergency, you will respond as you have trained — practicing and training are the keys to saving lives,” Collins says.

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