Hospitals commit to emergency plans in wake of mass shootings

Many hospitals and healthcare institutions across the country are carefully reviewing their disaster and emergency plans in the wake of the recent spate of mass shootings, including Wednesday's attack in San Bernardino, California, on a social services center.

In addition to preparing their emergency rooms and trauma centers for the sudden influx of patients caused by mass shooting events, hospitals are also training personnel and healthcare staff how to respond to emergencies within the hospital itself such as an active shooter or terror attack.

Hoyt J. Burdick, M.D., vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia, told WOWK that workers at his facility are rigorously drilled in disaster procedures.

"We have a very realistic drill with the same unpredictable factors of numbers and types of injuries and responses," Burdick said. The hospital performs the drills twice per year. The hospital's state of alert can be adjusted to each emergency depending upon variables such as how many beds are needed and the types and numbers of injuries and deaths expected. 

In Palm Springs, California, Desert Regional Medical Center conducts frequent reviews of disaster protocols, according to the Desert Sun. The hospital's trauma center spent Wednesday on stand-by, ready for patients injured in the San Bernardino attack. However, those patients were ultimately sent to hospitals closer to the attack area.

Last week, the federal government released a bulletin calling on hospitals to review their disaster plans, with recommendations including reviewing security plans, drills that replicate recent scenarios, and regular testing of emergency communications equipment. Safety experts point out that disaster readiness is a moving target. Systems must be tested and updated constantly from IT departments to accounting to the business office.

To learn more:
- here's the WOWK article
- read the Desert Sun article

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