Palmetto Health Richland Hospital conducts active shooter forum - DatelineCarolina

Palmetto Health Richland Hospital conducts active shooter forum

Emergency crews respond to the shooting at the University of South Carolina around 1:00 p.m. (WLTX) Emergency crews respond to the shooting at the University of South Carolina around 1:00 p.m. (WLTX)
Palmetto Health nurse, Megan Long, says plain language sent through the hospitals notifcation system in an emergency would better benefit the staff and patients. Palmetto Health nurse, Megan Long, says plain language sent through the hospitals notifcation system in an emergency would better benefit the staff and patients.
SLED's Wayne Freedman says local law enforcement officials are setting an example for other agencies around the state. SLED's Wayne Freedman says local law enforcement officials are setting an example for other agencies around the state.

By: Stephanie Youngblood

Fear struck the Carolina community on February 5, 2015.

Columbia police SWAT officers armed with AR-15s searched floor-by-floor, evacuating students from the Arnold School of Public Health after shots were fired around 1:00 p.m. Some students even barricaded themselves in their rooms until they got the all clear.

Two people were found dead that Thursday afternoon in a gruesome murder-suicide. That incident hit home for South Carolina community members, but shootings like this have become all too common. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports one person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. And the Palmetto Health Richland Hospital wants to be a part of helping lower those statistics.

Henry Simmons, the Director of Security at Palmetto Health, initiated an open-table exercise on Tuesday, in order to discuss how they can better prepare for a shooting incident. The hospital is the first in the state of South Carolina to bring together local and state law enforcement officials around the community to deliberate on a cohesive plan. 

“We’re continuously trying to work on enhancing our response and making sure we’re being transparent with the organization. Everyone needs to know what to do in these cases, so the more we can talk about it... the more we can collaborate with our law enforcement officials… the better we can be at responding to these types of incidents”, said Simmons.

The Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Police Department, State Law Enforcement Division, and Palmetto Health hospital developed six key components of how to better prepare for an active shooter situation during the forum.

The Columbia police Sgt.  says they need a sharp description, current location and any necessary background information of the shooter to better facilitate the incident. Chief of Special Operations for the Columbia Fire Department, Jason Krusen, introduced the idea of having local officials take the same training, so that everyone is cohesive. Staff members said having a plain language, rather than color codes, sent through the intercom and hospitals mass notification system would help inform the occasional doctors in the hospitals and patients.

The State Law Enforcement Divisions Wayne Freedman travels all acrooss the country training agencies on how to respond to shooting situations. He says he couldn’t be more impressed with the collaboration the local departments are making with each other to help better the community.

“You guys are setting yourself up for success to maintain patient care services, and the only way you can better prepare for that is doing what y’all are doing – working together," said Freedman.

The FBI says, shooting trainings have tripled around the country since 2000. First responders like the CPD and Fire Department will come together again February 16, 2016 for an integrated training drill in hopes that shooting incidents like the one just a year before at the University of South Carolina can be prevented.

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