Bomb Threat Series: Healthcare

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Create Plans, Practice Drills & Respond to Threats

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Hospitals – multiple buildings with expansive corridors and hundreds of rooms filled with patients and visitors. Eventually a wing or floor gets the code for a bomb threat and anxiety sets it. Bomb threats in a facility such as a hospital can bring unwelcome nervousness to patients, staff and first responders. Prepare for bomb threats by creating effective plans, practicing drills and responding efficiently.

When creating effective plans for a bomb threat in your hospital, include the responsibilities and roles of those that make up your bomb threat response team. This team should begin preliminary response before law enforcement and a bomb squad arrive at your facility. Only individuals with proper experience and expertise should be assigned roles on your bomb threat response team. When they are activated for a response, they should have easy access to floor plans, master keys, and emergency shut off information for first responders. Your plans can also include where patients get evacuated to and the process of notifying incoming staff and when a lockdown should be ordered. Effective plans are the difference between a quickly mitigated risk and evacuated patients going without proper care.

bomb threatEvacuations and drills in a hospital are much more complex than your average school evacuation or fire drill. Practicing real-life bomb threat drills is not always feasible, but table top drills can be effective and give staff direction on how to respond in the event of a bomb threat. Although it may only be a drill, practice as if it is a real threat by evacuating the floor that the bomb is said to be on, as well as the floors immediately above and below. Part of your healthcare facilities bomb threat drills should include where you will evacuate patients that need continued care and how many staff will assist in that, while others are performing alternative tasks. While practicing your drills, have your staff explain in a calm manner to patients and visitors what is happening and that their safety is the most important concern.

Before responding efficiently, your staff should be aware of what activities or packages could be cause of concern and what could require a response. Obviously a caller saying that there is a bomb placed should be taken seriously and acted upon immediately, but also stray briefcases, large envelopes and packages, and even unattended coolers and backpacks should be cause for suspicion. If any of these items are observed in a hidden location such as behind a patient bed, or behind a waiting room chair, your staff should begin enacting suspicious package protocol. An efficient response should be one that minimizes chaos and safely transports patients while working with and following the direction of first responders.

It is inevitable that a large healthcare facility such as a hospital will be the target of a bomb threat at some point, and having effective plans and competent staff trained on those plans will help the evacuation or lockdown run smoothly and without a tarnished reputation to your facility. By creating plans and practicing drills before a threat happens, you are ensuring that your hospital is fully prepared to effectively and efficiently respond to a bomb threat.

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