EASLEY — “All hands on deck!”
That was the call that went out Nov. 24 at Baptist Easley Hospital for its most recent “active shooter exercise,” a program implemented county wide to prepare emergency staff and first responders in what to do if encountered with an extreme situation.
“We wanted it as real as possible, but not scare people,” said Richard Collins, manager of Safety, Security and Emergency Management at Baptist Easley. “This is a drill, this is a drill, this is a drill — that’s how the radio call went out.”
Baptist Easley, in conjunction with the Pickens County Sheriffs Office and the Pickens County Office of Emergency Management, conducted the county wide drill that commenced at the hospital.
“This was a big one,” said Chad Carlson, manager of Marketing and Public Relations for the hospital. “We not only had gunshot victims coming in from the (mock) attack at Liberty High School, but we had a hazmat situation as well. Then, to top it off, we had a woman who was 37 weeks pregnant who went into spontaneous labor because of all the excitement.
“Drill or no drill, that’s a lot of ground to cover,” he said.
The drill at Baptist Easley was just one of the required two the establishment is mandated to carry out a year.
“You can use a real life event as a substitute for a drill,” said Collins. “I’ve been here five years and I would say we’ve had around 15, real and simulated.”
Collins stated that examples of “real life” events were things such as snow storms, floods, tornadoes and mass power outages.
“We keep enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for four days,” said Collins. “So most emergency situations I’m confident that we have covered.”
The one thing that keeps Collins awake at night? A train derailment.
“Those tracks run right through town,” said Collins. “And we’re right there. If a train were to derail and roll our way, well, we’re supposed to be the ones helping people and in that case I think we’d be the one’s needing the help. It’s a concern.”
As usual, the most common issue that was revealed on the After Action Report was problems with communication.
“We have policies and procedures in place to help with these kinds of events,” said Collins. “But occasionally, some members of staff can get bogged down with procedure. What they need to remember is that these policies are designed to be a guideline on what to do – never hinder.
“I call it ‘the fog of war,’” said Collins. “Those attacks in Paris last week? First it was 158 dead, then it was 129 – my point being that you have to be careful in your communications about what you’re passing on. It’s not what you think you know, it’s what you know. That’s what you pass on. That’s how you make a difference.”
Reach Kasie Strickland or D.C. Moody at 864-855-0355.