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Riverside conducts exercise to practice response to an active shooter scenario

August 31, 2018

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and the specialty physician offices at Riverside Medical Group teamed up with local first responders to conduct an active shooter exercise on the Riverside campus in Onancock on August 29.

In the Riverside exercise, the initial scenario called for team members to practice their skills de-escalating the anger of a domestic partner of a “patient.” Later on, role players portraying the domestic partner who was now a “shooter” and an accomplice came back to campus to seek revenge.

Different from many other types of disaster exercises, during an active shooter exercise, team members are trained to “Run, Hide, Fight.” “Run” means that the first line of defense is that team members help patients to exit the building, but only if it is safe to do so. “Hide” means that team members help patients to shelter in place if they do not have a safe means of exit, and “Fight” means that, if face to face with the assailant and only as a last resort, team members use any and all means available to disarm the assailant. In this exercise, several team members and role players who portrayed patients and visitors pretended to be injured by the shooter.

Once law enforcement determined that the simulated danger was over, the final part of the exercise practiced having team members and EMS work together to handle a mass casualty scenario.

The drill touched on nearly every department on the campus. Team members, first responders and volunteers all participated in a post-exercise debriefing, and their observations will be incorporated in an after-action report. One early finding was the importance of clear communication before, during and after an event and among agencies. The twelve participating agencies worked together without boundaries with the ultimate goal of saving lives.

Riverside and all of its services remained open and available at all times during the exercise. Patients and visitors were alerted as they entered the buildings that an exercise was being conducted so that no one would be alarmed.

Participating agencies:

·       Accomack County Public Safety Office

·       Accomack County Sherriff’s Office

·       Eastern Shore of Virginia 9-1-1 Communications Center

·       Northampton County Sherriff’s Office

·       Onancock Police Department

·       Onancock Volunteer Fire Department

·       Riverside Health System Emergency Management

·       Riverside Medical Group – Shore

·       Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital

·       Town of Onley Police Department

·       Virginia Department of Health and VDH Medical Reserve Corps

·       Virginia State Police