To identify opportunities for improvement in emergency response to active-shooter incidents, the Brigham’s Emergency Preparedness team convened several debriefings and collected employee feedback following a police-involved shooting that occurred on Fenwood Road on Feb. 7.
Shortly after the incident, which resulted in an employee being injured by a stray bullet from a police officer’s weapon, Brigham faculty and staff were invited to share honest feedback during an open forum and via an online form about what processes worked well and where there were gaps. More than 400 staff attended the forum, and the team received over 600 online submissions.
Chris Smith, MHA, MEP, director of Emergency Preparedness, said the findings from these activities were valuable for future preparedness efforts and resulted in several important changes to address staff concerns.
In terms of lessons learned, Smith said some staff reported that they did not receive some of the notifications from the Partners Employee Alert System (EAS) or could not hear the announcement on overhead speakers. Other employees noted the EAS notification was delayed or that they did not know they had needed to proactively enroll in EAS alerts, which is an opt-in system.
In collaboration with colleagues from Engineering, Information Systems (IS) and Telecommunications, the team is working to resolve technical issues with EAS alerts and increase the volume of overhead speakers in areas with a lot of ambient noise. In addition, the team is working to improve staff education around enrolling in the EAS notification system, which can be done through the Partners Applications menu.
Smith said the incident also highlighted an opportunity for departments to review their local preparedness plan, as some staff indicated they could not easily locate a securable location to shelter in place or the proper path for evacuation. Staff also experienced confusion about which way to respond — run, hide or fight — and what it meant for the hospital to be in “lockdown.” To address these concerns, Smith said the team is working with department leaders to help them develop risk self-assessments, drills and emergency plan templates, as well as providing resources for staff education and other guidance.
While the team has been largely focused on areas for improvement, Smith said the incident and follow-up work also revealed the strengths of the existing policy and procedures. Many staff reported that they felt safe and supported, despite the uncertain circumstances, and that the internal response was swift and effective, she said.