SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Things looked chaotic inside Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston Wednesday morning, but it was all a part of an active shooter drill involving the ER staff, police, fire and homeland security.
Paige Johnson, the spokesperson for Thomas, said the agencies have been working together for the past month to create the most realistic drill as possible.
“I don’t think you’re ever comfortable with this kind of situation. But in this day and time, you’ve got to prepare for this,” Johnson said.
South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart explained there were three different scenarios. The first was a patient brought in via ambulance. Once in the ER, the patient pulls out a gun and starts shooting. Rinehart said the hospital employees were very prepared for that. But the next scenario caught them a bit off guard, a shooter, already inside the building, begins firing off rounds.
Rinehart said giving staff and first responders a “surprise” is actually a good thing.
“It’s hard to simulate the chaos and everything that would be involved in one of those but we tried to as much as we could,” explained the chief.
Once the drill was complete, those who organized the event sat down and talked about how everything went.
“Everybody worked together and partnered very well together. The communication was very good,” according to Johnson. “We all felt like we had a pretty successful drill.”
Johnson said they’ll use the day’s lesson to improve response next time they do a drill or in case of a real emergency.
“It was definitely stressful. You can’t ever fully prepare for it but you can do the best you can. Teamwork is what it’s all about and open communication.”
While the drill was going on there was no disruption to patient care.