EASLEY – In conjunction with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the Easley Police Department, Baptist Easley Hospital conducted an active shooter exercise this morning to prepare for possible emergency scenarios.
“In ongoing emergency preparedness, Baptist Easley and community partners staged an active shooter exercise at the hospital,” said Allison Greene, public relations manager of Baptist Easley. “The scenario involved an estranged father wanted for a criminal domestic violence charge entering the Birthplace to seize his newborn infant.”
During the exercise, the shooter and one accomplice gunned down seven staff members in the hallway before entering a room and opening fire on 11 additional people.
“Security responded to the scene and one officer was shot,” said Greene, citing the role-playing scenario. “The Easley Police Department arrived on scene and neutralized one shooter as another held the infant hostage.”
The exercise continued as a law enforcement tactical team negotiated with the shooter for the release of the hostages. At that time, the shooter released a hazardous chemical but was then neutralized by law enforcement.
The exercise’s casualty count was ten fatalities, nine adults wounded with four of the adults and infant exposed to the unknown chemical hazard.
“The victims were received in the Emergency Department for treatment or to hot area for decontamination,” Greene said. “The incident concluded with a hot wash in the Branham Conference Center and completion of after-action reports.”
According to Richard Collins, manager of Safety at Baptist Easley, emergency situations are inevitable.
“Unfortunately, it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ a disaster is going to strike our community,” Collins said. “For example, we had a tornado hit downtown Easley in December of 2010 and another tornado hit in January of 1998. If these storms had been stronger, the resulting impacts to our community could have been much worse.”
Collins expressed his gratitude to the many community departments that are working together to ensure the public’s safety.
“No one is sure what or when the next disaster will strike, but it is a virtual certainty that some community will be impacted by disaster at some point this year,” Collins said. “We want to make sure our community is as prepared as possible should the disaster occur here. That’s why we involve Pickens County Emergency Management, HazMat, Fire Department, EMS, Sheriff’s Office, EPD, DHEC, School District of Pickens County, local industry and FEMA in our exercises. We are fortunate to live in a community where all of these agencies are willing to stop what they are doing and support this important function.”
Collins said that when disaster strikes a community, the hospital will be at the center and they must prepare for this eventuality.
Chief William Traber of the Easley Police Department said that this event provided the newly formed tactical team with an opportunity to get some training.
“It is training for us,” Traber said. “The tactical team provides better support for the community, and we are the size of city now that can have an incident like this at any time and we have the sheriff’s office to back us up.”
Sheriff Rick Clark also talked about the importance of preparing for such emergencies and working together with other departments.
“If you look across the news, there is something like this happening every day,” Clark said. “We are going to be ready as municipal officials and county officials to handle such adversity whether it is at a school, the hospital, or the workplace.”
According to Clark, this style of training is crucial to the officers.
“It gives us a chance to go back and review our footage and critique what we are doing which will make us better for the time that it is real, “Clark said. “It is great training for the real thing when it happens.”
Community partners for the exercise included the Easley Police Department, Easley Fire Department, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Pickens County EMS, Pickens County OEM, Pickens County HAZMAT, Oconee Nuclear Station, SCDHEC, FEMA, Region IV, Clemson University, and other hospitals.