Penn. Hospital Conducts Active Shooter Drill
Reading Eagle, Pa.
Nov. 16—As much as they detest considering it, the potential for a mass shooting within the walls of Reading Hospital is something hospital officials felt compelled to address.
So, before dawn Thursday, hospital security and emergency department personnel conducted an active-shooter drill in conjunction with the West Reading Police Department. Wyomissing police also were there as observers.
Mark McNash, vice president of support services, said that the sprawling hospital complex in West Reading has conducted drills in the past for mass casualties resulting from biohazards and other scenarios, and felt it was the right time to do an active-shooter drill as part of its emergency planning.
"We're the seventh or eighth most active emergency department in the country, and I think it was incumbent upon our ED to do an active-shooter drill," he said.
Patient care was not interrupted because the fast-moving drill was conducted in an area of the emergency department isolated from patient care, said Dr. Adam Sigel, an emergency room physician.
Officials intentionally chose to run the drill at 5 a.m. on a Thursday, traditionally the slowest time in the emergency department, Sigel said.
The drill was designed to prepare staff, including security and health care workers, for their roles in limiting casualties in an active-shooter scenario.
It was the first chance to use the hospital's armed security guards in such a scenario, McNash said.
The hospital instituted some armed guards in the spring, he said.
McNash said the hospital has a good working relationships with West Reading as well as Wyomissing police, but felt armed guards were necessary in light of mass shootings in public buildings around the country in recent years.
He said the local police supported that decision.
In the scenario, the shooter was neutralized by the armed guards, and local police were called in to conduct a sweep of the facility to determine if there were any other armed intruders.