At 10:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Gonzales Healthcare Systems held an active shooter drill in cooperation with the Gonzales Police Department. Law enforcement vehicles were summoned to the scene with reports of an active shooter outside the emergency room. Hospital staff were evacuated while the situation was updated to include new information. Dispatch described an incident in which one female had been shot in the leg and additional gunfire had led to another victim inside the business office being hit in the shoulder and torso. Traffic on Sara DeWitt was diverted. Emergency responders exited an ambulance and lifted a stretcher. A suspect was reportedly identified, and officers soon confirmed that the scene was secure. In less than 20 minutes, the simulated threat was diffused. Emergency Room Supervisor Cerena Michalec informed the public that the incident was only a drill and that there was no danger.
Hospitals, schools, businesses and organizations have ramped up these drills in recent years due to an increase in violent incidents that have taken place in settings where hazards and vulnerability pose greater risks and challenges. Since these situations can arise spontaneously or with the specific intention to do harm, school and hospital employees have taken required emergency preparedness training and continue taking on more responsibility for knowing what to do should they ever face a real threat.
In similar exercises, hospital staff have rehearsed scenarios in which the shooter fires on patients in a waiting room in order to expose those employees in any role to the things they might hear or see in an active shooter situation and give them opportunities to practice staying alert, locating the building’s exits and knowing when to run, hide or fight.
“It’s repetition and training for the officers and it allows them to get familiar with the layout of the campus. This gives them the opportunity to find out where the exits are, especially for new officers. Students doing drills get the chance to learn what to do in case something were to happen at school,” said Gonzales County Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Harless.
Although staff members, patients, students, and community members have sometimes found emergency drills frightening, sensible training has been proven to save lives.