“Active Shooter Training”

Clackamas Town Center Shooting: Gunfire Erupts At Portland Mall

My sister lives in Portland, and, when I got home tonight, the first thing I saw on my Facebook News Feed was my cousin in Alburquerque had posted “Portland friends and family I hope none of you went near that mall today.”  And I thought, what happened at what mall?

So, of course, I googled “Portland mall”, and discovered that some unhinged person with a gun had let loose on a mall-full of innocent holiday shoppers, and killed 2 people and injured a third.

And this event happens just after I had my “Active Shooter Training” at work yesterday.

I work in Baltimore.  Many of my patients are in and out of jail, most have had a history of a GSW (gun shot wound) in their past medical history, and I walk to and from my parking garage with the knowledge that shootings happen at a higher rate in Baltimore than in many other cities in this country.

A few years ago, I took note of the following sign (or set of signs) that showed up in our buildings, near the elevators:

emergenciesThis photo is of a flip-chart, and each page describes a separate emergency situation, and what we employees should do, in case of such emergency.  And the “Active Shooter” always caught my eye and my imagination.

Did you watch “The Wire”?

It’s a question I often ask the applicants I interview for our medical school program, and for our residency and fellowship.  The Wire was an intense program, but it was fairly true to life, as far as I know…based on checking facts and circumstances with my own patients lives.

So, yesterday, I attended a training session to find out what we are supposed to do in the event of an “active shooter” on campus.  And, this is the summary sheet that we were given:

If an active shooter...

Basically, the steps to follow are:

  1. Run
  2. Hide
  3. Fight

But, if you read the AP story that I linked to above, you’ll see at the end that one witness observed:

Kaelynn Keelin was working at two stores down from Macy’s when the gunfire began and watched windows to another store get shot out.

She and her Made in Oregon co-workers ran to get customers inside the store to take shelter, Keelin said.

“We got lucky we stayed in,” she said. “If we would have run out, we would have ran right into it.”

In my opinion, if someone has a gun, you have no control over who is going to get shot.  There were hundreds of people in that mall today, and 2 people died and one other was injured.

Our trainer urged us to watch a YouTube video put out by the Houston police, and I did.  Here it is:

But, I keep thinking, if there really was a shooting event going on, would one know which way to run?  Don’t we fool ourselves by thinking that we have any control in these situations?

I drive every day on I-95, and often, there are erratic drivers on that road who put all the rest of us at risk by weaving in and out of traffic, and any day, one of those erratic drivers might barrel their car into mine, and it would be over.

Can I control that?  No.

I asked the question “If we are taking care of patients in clinic when an active shooter is present, do we abandon the patients?”.  The answer – “yes”.  That’s never the right answer when you’re taking care of patients – patient care always comes first.

So, if I hear gunfire in our building when I’m caring for a patient in a wheelchair, will I run out of the exam room to try and save myself?  I have no idea.

But it sure is something to think about…

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