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Being Proactive to Safeguard Against Active Assailant Incidents: Aging Services and Healthcare Facilities

oswaldcompanies January 17, 2019

An active shooter. A vehicle used as a weapon. Words you don’t want to hear. Yet, too often, we do.

For the ownership, management and staff of healthcare facilities who provide vital care for the elderly, they too must be vigilant and aware of the risk. Safeguarding their patients, visitors, vendors and staff is paramount.

The Oswald Companies’ Healthcare & Aging Services practice understands the needs of healthcare facilities. We know this a sensitive subject. We also know through experience that reducing risk and promoting the safety of patients, employees and visitors, is accomplished with a proactive approach.

What Is An Active Assailant Event?

A pre-meditated attack carried out by an active assailant using a vehicle, explosive device or any handheld weapon that results in the following:

  • Property damage at an insured location, and/or
  • Bodily injury to one or more persons at an insured location or within 650 feet of an insured location

Preparation and advance planning is essential to mitigate risk and save lives, especially in facilities where patients are not ambulatory or can easily shelter in place.

What can healthcare facility management do to lessen their risk?

• Prepare an Emergency Response Plan
Whether it is a severe weather or active assailant event, having a plan for staff, visitors and vendors to follow is essential. The plan can include the following:

  • Are there ‘safe rooms’ in your facility where people can shelter in place?
  • Is there an off-site safe zone where staff, etc., can gather in case of an emergency?
  • How will you contact the families of patients and keep them updated?
  • Have you shared floor plans with local law enforcement? Consult with your local law enforcement agency – many will visit your facility free of charge and offer their expertise.
  • When the situation is safely stabilized, have an “all clear” system in place for staff, patients, visitors, etc., who have sheltered in place to assist first responders clear the building.
  • Who is the point of contact on staff that can coordinate with first responders, families, etc.?

• Staff Training and Education
A prepared staff can limit the threat to the facility and its patients. Schedule active assailant training drills – at least twice a year – so the staff is familiar with procedures and their roles.

  • Train staff to “say something, if they see something” that is out of the ordinary including unfamiliar persons without the proper visitor/vendor credentials (see below), persons that are not allowed on the premises because of protective court orders (this can include both patients and staff – domestic disputes have been the root cause of several active assailant incidents in workplaces in recent
    years), suspicious vehicles or suspicious packages left in patient rooms or public areas.

• Harden Your Facility and Procedures
Review both the physical condition and current procedures in your facility and identify areas that could pose a risk.

  • Make sure doors, windows and access points are secured with the proper locks, screening, etc.
  • Install proper lighting near key access doors, loading dock and parking lot.
  • Consider installing an entry system where visitors have to be given access to the facility.
  • Know who is visiting your facility. Have visitors and vendors sign in at the front desk and provide them with a visitor badge that must be displayed at all times. Train staff to question persons not wearing the proper credentials. This can also help lower theft of personal property and medications from patient rooms.
  • Have vendors schedule times for deliveries – that way you know who is coming and when they are coming.
  • Mark exterior doors with letters (share this information with local police and fire departments) so first responders can easily identify key access points. It is easier for a staff person to say we are sheltering near door H than to say the door near the physical rehab office.
  • Make sure employee background checks are done in the pre-hiring phase and that they are extensive.

Finding Answers

In the aftermath of an active assailant event at a healthcare facility emotions are raw, and confusion, uncertainty and feelings of insecurity are common among employees, families of patients and for those being cared for at the facility. The trauma – both physical and psychological – can require significant and costly post-event support services.

The ownership and management of healthcare facilities want to do right by their employees, vendors and patients, and continue their mission of healing and caring. To carry out that mission healthcare facility owners and managers need to restore the business as soon as possible and protect it going forward.

Oswald has solutions that can assist management to restore the business and care for employees, patients, and other individuals impacted by an active assailant event.

Active assailant coverages can include the following protections:

  • Medical and dental expenses, funeral costs and counseling costs for victims.
  • Employee retention and/or recruitment costs
  • Crisis management service
  • Third-party liability
  • Time element losses
  • First-party property damage

About Oswald’s Aging Services:

Oswald partners with aging service healthcare providers, both for profit and nonprofit. Our holistic approach towards risk management will improve your financial outcomes, decrease risk of loss, increase employee retention, and ultimately reduce your spend. Our proactive service offerings will decrease the risk of loss, and position your organization to trend positive for years to come.

For more information, contact us here.