The Brigham Shooting: Another Case for Preparedness

Two years ago this spring, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, we were reminded once again that our city’s hospitals are among the greatest in the world; our medical professionals among the most skilled and passionate. But just as critical was the entire community’s training and readiness for a crisis. It was credited with saving lives that terrible day in April.

Tuesday, when cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Michael Davidson was fatally shot at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of our world-renowned medical facilities again proved itself a model for crisis preparedness. While the tragic loss of a talented surgeon and loving family man was the primary media focus and rightfully so, the need to have a comprehensive and coordinated plan of action that all emergency personnel are well versed in was not lost on anyone.

When Dr. Davidson was shot and before it was known that his killer had taken his own life, a loudspeaker warned patients and staff of an emergency. All were instructed to find a room and lock the door. At the same time, surrounding roads were shut down. Even the MBTA briefly suspended service to the area. It was about 45 minutes until a second announcement gave the all-clear to those inside the building.

The Brigham was one of the first hospitals in the country to train staff in how to respond to a shooting and had actually worked with Boston Police to produce their own training video. It depicts a scenario eerily similar to what played out Tuesday at the Brigham.

According to the Boston Globe story, “Hospital shootings are so rare that they are sometimes compared to lightning strikes.” But, as we know, they do happen. Tuesday, standing beside the hospital’s President Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told the press, “That’s why we do this training. And I [have to] commend their response.”

Photo Credit: David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe / Getty

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