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Hostages, Shooting at GBMC Clinic? Just a Drill

Officials created the exercise in response to increased violence at hospitals across the country.

As violence at hospitals increases nationwide, Greater Baltimore Medical Center employees are working to make sure they aren't caught off guard.

On Thursday morning, the hospital's emergency management and clinical staff created a simulated scenario at a pandemic flu vaccine clinic that turned deadly, organizers said. In the scene, a father opens fire upon hearing the news that his child was not approved for a vaccine as a result of an existing illness.

The drill provided first responders the opportunity to administer health care and manage a hostage situation involving casualties.

"We have been seeing this sort of escalation of violence in health care," said Mike Forthman, GBMC's Vice President of Facilities and Support Services, which oversees the hospital's security and safety departments. "The more you practice, the more prepared you are if something were to happen."

A professional from Masada, which provides tactical training for law enforcement and military officials, acted as the distressed father, and was equipped with a training prop that resembled a semi-automatic handgun.

Members of Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company and Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company's emergency medical services unit practiced administering treatment to "shooting victims"—many of which were portrayed by students from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School who were outfitted with fake wounds, Forthman said. The state's Department of Natural Resources SWAT team eventually took down the "assailant."

The scenario played out in a training facility located on the GBMC campus, which Forthman called the only one of its kind in the area and thus a rare venue to host this sort of drill.

Although this was the first safety drill of this magnitude at GBMC, he noted that others have taken place at the facility. This exercise took about two years to put together, and similar ones will likely be acted out annually.

"I think it went well," Forthman said. "There are a lot of learning opportunities. This is something we need to get comfortable with."

A September study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine revealed  there were 154 hospital-related shootings between 2000 and 2011.

Locally, a gunman opened fire at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2010 after hearing about his mother's medical condition, Patch reported.

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