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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


When active shooters invade safe spaces, having a plan matters

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D. Chief, Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch
Published Date: 6/14/2016 12:21:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Planning considerations for health care settings

This week, we saw the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. When many people in the community talk about Pulse, the gay night club that was the scene of the attack, they say the same thing: “this was a safe place.”

The same can be said for hospitals:  we think of them as safe places. Yet according to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, there were 154 hospital-related shootings from 2000-2011.

The statistic is a tragic reminder of the need to be ready at all times.

At this time, there are no specific, credible threats to the U.S., including to the health care system. But this is a good time to think about ways that your hospital or health care facility can plan to protect patients and staff if an active shooter threatened your facility.

What would that response look like in your hospital? Your neonatal ICU? Your emergency department? Your infectious disease quarantine areas? How can you plan for a response that takes into account the special challenges throughout your hospital? And how can you make sure your staff knows what to do and is ready to act when seconds count?

Federal agencies and private sector partners have collaborated on planning guides to help you work through many of these issues.

2015 Healthcare and Public Health Sector Coordinating Council Guidance on Active Shooter Planning and Response in a Healthcare Setting contains specific guidance for healthcare providers. This guidance addresses many unique aspects of healthcare settings, including many of the issues outlined above.

Incorporating Active Shooter Incident Planning into Health Care Facility Emergency Operations Plans helps emergency planners, disaster committees, executive leadership, and others better prepare for an active shooter incident and integrate that planning into their emergency operations plans. Using this resource, your facility can work to improve information sharing, coordination with law enforcement, and implementation of psychological first aid strategies.

Both of these resources give you some great tools to get started. To learn more, check out the ASPR TRACIE topic collection on Explosives and Mass Shooting. ASPR TRACIE Technical Assistance Specialists can help you locate specific resources and connect you with subject matter experts.

If your health care facility is already planning for the effects of a mass casualty event, let us know. We want to highlight best practices and share them with the community so that we can all better protect health and save lives. 

The Healthcare and Public Health Critical Infrastructure Partnership Program connects public and private sector to enhance resilience of our health care system.  If you would like more information about the partnership, please visit the Critical Infrastructure Protection for the Healthcare and Public Health Sectors website.


About active shooters

6/21/2016 9:12:43 AM

Active Shooter - Run, Hide, Fight

Absolutely outstanding 33-page article on incorporating the active shooter incident planning in the HCFEOP. We need to continually remind ourselves that the plan is only as good as the periodic training and exercises of that plan. Plan-Train-Exercise is like a 3-legged stool. Omit any one of the three and the stool falls apart.
2/6/2018 2:19:20 PM

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