Mercy Health trains for ‘active shooter’ situation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Mercy Health hospital employees held “active shooter” training at emergency rooms this week.

A hospital never wants to deal with a mass casualty but staff needs to practice how to respond, organize, and provide care in case it happens.

All the practice in the world won’t make an active shooter situation normal in real life — nothing can prepare you. But at least hospital staff at all three Mercy Health systems will have this training in the back of their minds.

Hospital leaders say training helps save lives in emergencies, especially when emotions run high.

“We rely on all of our folks falling back on that extensive training so they know what to do in the midst of all the surprise and shock of any sort of mass casualty,” said Don Koenig, president of St. Elizabeth Hospital.

The Youngstown hospital has its own police force.

“We do active shooter training, we do do hallway entrance, room entry, room clearing, we do a lot at the shooting range,” said Mercy Health Youngstown Police Chief Ryan Binacci. “This isn’t an isolated training we do. So during those trainings, we set up different scenarios, we set up different situations.”

The training included a situation in which a gunman fired on people in the emergency room.

Workers have to know how to deal with violence and protect themselves, then immediately change hats to deal with injuries.

“With St. E’s Youngstown being the only Level I trauma center, obviously, if there was ever an incident like this in the community, the most highly injured, the sickest patients, would be brought here because we have the extra resources as a Level I trauma center,” Koenig said.

Bottom line for doctors, nurses, and administrators is to be prepared for anything.

“We try to make it as real as we can. It’s a high-stress baseline, then you add something like a mass casualty incident that’s going to take it to the next level,” Dr. Chad Donley said. “Trying to stress the system is the most important because that’s how it would truly be if it ever occurred.”

By preparing for the worst, they hope they’re ready.

“I don’t think it’s our new normal but we have to be prepared,” Donley said.

The hospital posted signs throughout the facility to make sure no one thought the situation was real.

Hospital administrators said if a mass shooting happened in the area, local hospitals have a plan to work together. While critically injured patients would go to St. E’s in Youngstown, patients with more minor injuries would go to other nearby hospitals.