November 16, 2021
Riverside, CA – Riverside Community Hospital (RCH) partnered with the Riverside Police Department (RPD) on Wednesday, November 10 for an active shooter exercise inside the 478-bed healthcare facility. The main objectives for the drill included interagency communications between RCH, RPD and Riverside County, RCH Emergency Operations Center management/ communication and the potential medical surge in patients as an effect of a shooting. The training and exercise resulted in citing best practices and opportunities for improvement for all agencies involved.
RCH concocted a scenario that generated many “what ifs” in the event of a real-life experience. The drill would see a distressed father, upset and emotional that his child’s brain tumor surgery did not save the child’s life. Riddled with anger at the surgeon and her perceived failure, the fictional father demands the surgeon tries again and opens fire on a nearby nurse to show how serious he is. From there, he follows the surgeon at gunpoint to the operating room as she tries to bide time until the police arrive. In the scenario, the father shoots 2 more staff members in the O.R. before the RDP SWAT and patrol units stop the shooter from committing more injuries or deaths.
“This drill afforded Riverside Community Hospital and the Riverside Police Department to address a very dangerous situation in a busy clinical unit, with multiple surgeries going on, during an active shooter incident,” said Kendall Jones, Director of Environmental Health and Safety at RCH. “About 50 RCH staff members participated in the exercise, and those who were role-players in the O.R. were greatly impacted by the realism of the drill which included victim moulage (wound makeup) for added authenticity.”
During an emergency situation, such an active shooter, the hospital opens a centralized Command Center and starts to implement emergency operations and safety protocol. “The police department will take control of the active shooter situation once on site but RCH will be aware of the action and begin to take necessary steps to ensure the facility’s inhabitants remain as safe as possible,” said Kendall Jones. “Life-saving surgeries and bedside care need to continue without much interruption; but the immediate safety of all patients, staff, physicians and visitors takes precedence in an emergency event. The Command Center helps RCH leadership evaluate the situation and take appropriate action.”
Prior to the drill, RDP SWAT Commander Aaron Hernandez delivered active shooter training to the RCH’s management team and drill participants. “RPD wanted to share how we respond to active shooter calls. Our SWAT and patrol units have done extensive training on active shooters and welcomed the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge inside a healthcare setting,” said Officer Hernandez. “This collaboration has proven to be beneficial to both RCH and RPD. It has helped the hospital gain insight as to our operations upon arrival and what protocols we need in place post incident to manage the resulting crime scene and police investigation – all while giving RCH the ability to continue patient operations.”
“A lot of people were involved in making this active shooter exercise happen, including RPD North Area Commander Chad Milby and SWAT Commander Aaron Hernandez,” said Jackie Van Blaricum, Riverside Community Hospital Chief Executive Officer. “While difficult and hopefully never a reality, I feel confident our administrative and nursing teams, along with the police department, can make the right calls to ensure safety for all lives on site.”