Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Trauma at Seattle Grace

Normally, I would not blog about a television show, especially Grey’s Anatomy. Personal views aside, I was drawn in to the finale this year.  A disturbed man entered the hospital with a gun and the facility went on lockdown. Doctors, Nurses, Visitors, and Patients were held in terror for 2 hours as he made his way throughout Seattle Grace. No one permitted in or out as the local police department determined the proper course of action. No one inside knew where the shootings were occurring, or what to do to protect themselves. The shooter made his way through the building killing and terrorizing all.

Hospitals will be receiving increasing pressure from AHJ (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) to be prepared for these types of events. Seattle Grace (as depicted in the show) was horribly ill prepared and it resulted in a number of dramatic losses and over dramatic saves. It was as if the building had no internal security system. (They should partner up with the hospital on the tv show 24 – they were able to view cameras in the hospitals on a tablet PC - by the way that's not as difficult as it may sound)

Here are just a few thoughts on “acts of terror” on a hospital. The security office should have access to view both internally and remotely all security cameras.  They should have a cooperative program with the local police department.  Providing access to the local police is not as challenging or space age as it may sound. Digital and IP based cameras can be network based or the Video Server can be leveraged. The security plan and threat assessment should determine how to notify staff of the location of the shooter. The Mass Notification should identify the following: What is occurring and what should the people do to be safe? Imagine if there were a series of cameras in the hospital that could identify where the shooter was and begin to strategically lock down areas within the hospital to keep him out. You can’t necessarily evacuate a hospital but you could minimize casualties by limiting the shooters movements within the building.

Additionally, there was no internal communications occurring. The doctors had pagers, but there were no internal wireless phones. The saddest scene in the show was when Dr. Bailey dragged the dying young doctor to the elevators only to find they had been shut down. She has no ability to call for help - she had to sit and hold him as he died. She had a pager. If she has wireless phones in this situation she could have called a central command post. To take it a step further, if there was a central command post they could have been able to see the entire situation unfold on a camera and have dispatched a help team.

This TV show depicted what Mass Notification Emergency Communication (MNEC) is all about. It’s sad that we live in an age where people find release in killing others, but casualty counts can be reduced if proper security people, process and technology are applied.

MNEC is really about choreographing movement based on the threat that is occurring. It’s about knowing who needs to get what information and how are we going to get it to them.

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