Active Shooter Planning and Response

April 5, 2017

Diverse group of health care professionals are meeting in hospital board room to review new patient and insurance policies. Doctors, nurses, and administrators are in casual meeting studying procedures and charts. They are wearing business casual clothing, scrubs, and lab coats. They're drinking coffee during the morning staff meeting.

According to a study in Annals of Emergency Medicine, from 2000-2011 the United States had 154 hospital-related shootings. An FBI study noted that from 2000-2013, active shooter incidents have become more frequent. The first seven years of their study show an average of 6.4 incidents annually, while the last seven years show 16.4 incidents annually.


Given this rise in active shootings, the Healthcare & Public Health Sector Coordinating Council has released an update of their “Active Shooter Planning and Response in a Healthcare Setting” guide. Designed with input from industry experts and incorporating the latest recommendations and techniques used in active shooter planning and response, this is a must read for all healthcare facilities.


The guide takes an in-depth look at the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. It offers step-by-step guidance to assist healthcare facilities in active shooter planning and response. This document has been updated yearly since its first publication in 2013. The 2017 edition brings additional information on “warm zone operations” (how to provide care in an area where a potential threat exists), law enforcement tactics, unified command, and psychological support.


Not only is it important for healthcare facility managers to read this guide and share the information with their staff, it is critical that they run active shooter drills (just like fire drills), so they can train their staff in what to expect and how to react.


Every healthcare facility should also develop an Emergency Operations Plan, and be sure to share that plan with law enforcement and other first responders before an emergency occurs. That way, should such an emergency occur, first responders will be able to move quickly through the facility, secure necessary areas, and tend to people in need.


For more information on preparing for an active shooter emergency, the Council also recommends viewing the Responding to an Active Shooter in a Healthcare Setting video produced by the MESH Coalition.


For more help on emergency preparedness for healthcare facilities, contact Vanguard Resources.