It is something that no one wants to ever imagine could be possible. But unfortunately it is a reality. The fact that an active shooter scenario can happen in a senior living facility is terrifying. Sometimes people choose to prey on the weaker and those less able to defend themselves.
Just in 2017, Thomas Hartless, 43, was found dead inside Pine Kirk Care Center after having killed medical staff and a Kirkersville Police Chief.
Throughout my career as an activity professional I have seen countless videos on how to handle an active shooter scenario. Hide, Run, Fight has been ingrained in my mind. One thing, however, that has always been questioned is what can I do to ensure the safety of the seniors that I loved and want to protect ?
Here are a few suggestions that I recommend, however it is always best to contact you local
emergency action plans as well as your facilities safety guidelines.
1) Ensure your building has a Safety Team or Committee. Trained staff that are given help and guidelines from your local police department and EMS.
2) You have to remain strong under pressure. It can be one of the most difficult decisions in determining the ethical question of abandonment. Clearing people out of the immediate areas of the shooter is the first priority. Hiding might not be feasible. “Run, hide and fight” is only applicable in close by areas where the shooter is located. This may mean leaving patients behind, some of whom may not be able to evacuate themselves. It’s a life and death decision, and that’s why having a safety team is so vital. You should get together and discuss which residents may be the hardest to evacuate. Perhaps having their room closest to an exit can be discussed. For example, a bariatric patient or a resident who is unable to walk or sit in a wheelchair (amputee situations or other health conditions that have rendered residents to have difficulty with their ADL’s) may be harder to evacuate down a long hallway, but placing their room closer to a hallway exit may help get them to safety sooner rather than struggling down a hallway.
3) Have all staff be informed on how to handle a situation in which they may have to fight off an attacker.
I pray that no one will ever have to use these suggestions.