How local hospitals train for active shooter situation

Police are trying to figure out why a man gunned down his ex-fiance outside a Chicago hospital on Monday, and then murdered two others, including a police officer.

Staff at the hospital recently went through active shooter training.

But how prepared are local hospitals when it comes to training in the case of an active shooter situation?

It’s something Gundersen and Mayo health systems in La Crosse are staying on top of, because events like the incident at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, can be closer than we think.

“This is something that could happen at any time and the ability to create that reality is life-saving,” said Gundersen Emergency Manager Tom Wright.

Gundersen offers classes that put employees in real-life-like situations to better prepare them on how to respond when there is a threat.

“I present the strategy of ALICE, Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, and at the culmination, students have the opportunity where I or someone from the class is certainly welcome to play that shooter,” Wright said.

Mayo Clinic Health System also has procedures in place for employees.

“First preferred method would be to run out of the area, then if you are trapped into an area, you would want to hide, and the least preferred method would be to actually fight the active shooter as a last resort,” said Charles Hall, security operations supervisor with Mayo Clinic Health System.

But both hospitals say regardless of the training, if it wasn’t for law enforcement, there’s only so much they can do.

“We work with them to go ahead and try to go ahead and try to prepare and practice for any type of scenario that could be encountered with any type of active threat,” said Captain Troy Nedegaard with the La Crosse Police Department.

Nedegaard says the department trains officers to know just what to do, once dispatch gets that call.

“We get on scene, we’re going to try to communicate with anybody that’s available that might be monitoring what’s taking place and know where the individual is.”

Gundersen staff say while they hope they never have to respond to an active shooter, it gives them peace of mind to feel prepared.

“Without any threats existing to the organization, just that culturally we’re moving that direction,” Wright said.

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