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Nurses Feel More Prepared After Active Shooter Simulation

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   August 29, 2018

Following an improvement initiative, emergency nurses reported increased knowledge of how to handle an active shooter incident.

An active shooter incident is something no nurse wishes to experience. Unfortunately, these situations can, and do, happen at healthcare organizations across the country.

Bon Secours Richmond Community Hospital, in fact, was on lockdown Wednesday following a threat of a shooting on its campus, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

To prepare emergency department staff to effectively handle these types of incidents, active shooter training and simulations are a must, according to a new practice improvement initiative and study in the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

The goal that drove the initiative was to develop and successfully implement a safety strategy that increased the ability of a large pediatric emergency department staff to effectively respond to an active shooter in their hospital.

Survey results showed that of the 202 emergency nurses and ancillary staff members who participated in active shooter training:

  • 92% felt better prepared to respond if a shooting occurred at their facility.
  • 70% of participants reported an increase in knowledge and readiness.

Participants reported their first response to an active shooter incident would be:

  • Flee the scene (66%)
  • Protect patients (15%)
  • Hide (7%)
  • Fight (6%)
  • Call 911 (4%)

"We are in the infancy stage of this conversation," says study co-author and Emergency Nurses Association member Mary Baker, BSN, RN, of active shooter training in hospitals. "As emergency nurses, we practice our ACLS and PALS a lot. We've gotten very proficient at it because it's always top of mind. But when it comes to preparing for a catastrophe such as an active shooter in our own emergency department, most nurses have no idea how we'd react because we aren't preparing for it."

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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