On May 4, simulated gunfire erupted at Robinson Health Clinic, causing staff to run for cover as a man roamed the halls, shooting at anyone he saw.
The lone gunman was part of an active shooter exercise that tested not only the clinic’s response to the event and its aftermath, but also Womack Army Medical Center’s capability to respond to influx of casualties.
After the shooter was subdued by security forces and while the building was still being cleared, specially trained medical staff followed behind security to begin triaging those notionally injured during the rampage. When the all clear was called, emergency vehicles began transporting patients to the hospital for treatment.
“This exercise feels extremely real to us, especially as we’re treating patients here in the moment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Hosea Campbell, operations noncommissioned officer at Robinson Health Clinic. “With everything going on in the world today, this is extremely valuable training.”
Clinic staff treated injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to broken fingers. All the patients were moved into the main lobby area as they were triaged and started receiving initial care.
The lobby was buzzing as staff, evaluators and role players worked together to maximize the training.
“This type of training is nothing new for us,” said David Dixon, training coordinator, WAMC. “We conduct a mass casualty exercise twice a year, all designed to test our capabilities and to find out what we can do better.”
The hospital’s response to a large number of injured people goes beyond what many people just see on the surface of them receiving care in the Emergency Department.
Exercises like these help identify potential blood supply shortages and how they’ll be dealt with, operating room space, supply chain issues and even identifying if there is enough clean linen on hand.
In a few weeks, all of the participants will get together to outline what areas they need to improve before the hospital’s next exercise later this year.
While the scenario has not been identified yet, it will definitely be designed to stress the hospital’s capabilities and ensure staff are prepared for any conceivable mass casualty scenario.