At Hospital Helps
For The Worst
BY KEN LITTLE
Laughlin Memorial Hospital was a busy place Wednesday night, and not for the usual reasons.
Hospital employees and first-responders from various agencies participated in a full-scale disaster drill held on hospital grounds.
Participants arriving at the scene were presented with a chilling scenario, or script, for the disaster training exercise.
"The drill's scenario depicted a disgruntled individual entering the hospital's Outpatient Center and shooting a receptionist. After shooting the receptionist he systematically shot nine individuals in the outpatient waiting room," hospital spokesman Noah Roark said.
"Upon emptying his weapon, he fled the area by accessing an elevator.
"The hospital's security officer arrived at the scene and immediately called 911 for assistance. The 911 dispatcher began contacting the appropriate law enforcement and emergency medical response services," Roark said.
14 'VICTIMS' TREATED
The hospital's emergency room staff treated 14 "victims" of the rampage, Roark said.
As the scenario unfolded late Wednesday afternoon, an incident command center was set up in a trailer in one of the hospital parking lots.
Police and other emergency workers checked in, received instructions, and headed out to their assignments as they would do in a real-life disaster.
Greeneville police Chief Terry Cannon spoke to other officers and agencies on a cell phone, getting an assessment of the situation.
He took a momentary break for a short interview with The Greeneville Sun.
"What we have going on here is an active shooter in the hospital. We have nine or 10 people down, and we have four officers shot," Cannon said.
"We have a person in custody, but we are still seeking other people."
Such exercises are valuable for all participants, Chief Cannon indicated.
"We're learning a lot. This is a full-scale drill. There are injured people over there," Cannon said, motioning toward the hospital emergency room.
"EMS is working. SWAT is working," he said.
Bill Brown, Greene County emergency management director, said the exercise allows participants to "test several things," including communications and the effectiveness of the incident command center.
"What we've got going right now is a unified command," Brown said Wednesday night during the drill.
The exercise was complete and the suspects in custody after about two hours.
A "Hot Wash" critique involving all the participating agencies was held Thursday morning at Laughlin Memorial Hospital.
"Agency representatives discussed various problems such as communication between participant agencies that were noted in the exercise," Roark said.
Roark said he "was very impressed with the excellent response and coordination of the various agencies involved in the drill."
"[It] proved to be an excellent learning experience for the hospital's various staff members that participated in the drill, as well as those participants from the various Greeneville/Greene County public service agencies," he said.
Participants included the Greeneville Police Department and the department's SWAT Team, the Greene County Sheriff's Department SWAT Team, the Greeneville Fire Department, the Greene County-Greenevile Emergency Medical Services, the Greeneville-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services R.A.C. ES 1.
Also involved in the drill were evaluators from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Carter County Emergency Management Agency.