‘Active shooter’ tests readiness of local agencies | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 28, 2016 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 27, 2016 at 2:32 pm
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
July 19 appeared to be shaping up as a normal afternoon at the Colleton Medical Center complex, but that changed in an instant.
It changed when a man cradling an automatic rifle walked into the Colleton Ambulatory Surgery Center and opened fire.
It all went according to plan — the regular patients at the center had all completed their treatments and gone home, replaced by hospital staffers who were participating in a comprehensive active shooter training that had been in the planning stages for months.
Colleton Medical Center official Sandy Bynum said, “Even though the staff knew that we were doing a drill with an active shooter, the play-like situation was real enough that people reacted in a manner they didn’t anticipate.
“When rifle went off, the sound was muffled, but it was enough to get attention,” Bynum said. The sound, he added, was followed with a plume of smoke from the rifle’s barrel and the smell of gunpowder. “The reenactment was very real.”
The participants, about 25 staff members, had received some training on reacting to an active shooter, Bynum said, but the realistic training scenario “really hit home for them. Folks said they did not react as calmly as they thought they would.”
Bynum said it was very impressive to see how the Walterboro Police Department, Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and Colleton County Fire-Rescue responded to emergency call — to see the law enforcement officers dressed in their tactical gear and “carrying some serious firepower.”
Bynum said while the medical center staff at the Ambulatory Surgery Center knew it was a drill, hospital officials tried to keep information about the drill limited for safety’s sake. “We did not want a lot of people around the site.”
In the Emergency Department, Director Christy Judy and David Linder, assistant director of nursing in the Emergency Department, knew that the training scenario would come to an end when the eight gunshot victims from training exercise arrived at the Emergency Department.
Judy, Linder, Colleton Medical Center Human Resources Director Wendy Glass and Colleton Medical Center Director of Engineering Bruce Bennett were the medical center’s core team that worked with safety forces for weeks putting together the training scenario.
With the shooter in custody, teams of paramedics escorted by armed officers fanned out in the center to begin treating the victims to prepare them for transport to the Emergency Department.
While the ambulatory surgery center was closed to patients during the training session, the Emergency Department remained open to receive patients.
Those staffing the Emergency Department had to cope with handling those real emergencies, in addition to handling the triage for the fictitious gunshot victims.
The point of the training scenario, Bynum said, was to test the Emergency Department’s protocol for handling “an unexpected surge in patients coming in on a regular day.”
Bynum said that the Emergency Department staff is “relatively used to surges, accustomed to periodically having four or five people hurt in motor vehicle accident brought in for treatment at one time.
“It worked the way we thought it would,” Bynum said.
Bynum explained that the medical center staff trains annually on the different individual facets like mass casualty response. And the law enforcement officers and fire-rescue personnel routinely undergo regular training in dealing with specific incidents.
Last week’s training exercise, Bynum explained, “enabled us to meld those different areas. We tried to put all the pieces together. There is nothing like a drill that brings all parties together.
“It created a lot of discussion. This was an education for staff. We learn where weaknesses are and go from there,” Bynum said.