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Mass-Notification Error Leads to Hospital Evacuation


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness
building evacuation, emergency, stairs

In the last decade, active shooter situations in facilities have forced facility managers to rethink the way that they respond to emergencies. Among the top priorities is the pressing need to inform large numbers of people across a large area about the emergency. The challenge for managers is ensuring mass notification systems operate properly, whether the situation is a drill or an actual emergency.

For more than an hour recently, patients, staff and visitors were locked down and barricading themselves in offices during what they were told was a report of an active shooter that drew swarms of Montgomery County police to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, according to The Washington Post.

But the reason that alert went out and whether it was a false alarm that sparked a genuine response or a drill preparation gone awry was murky for hours after the event in statements issued by the U.S. Navy and the officials at the medical campus near Washington. Through the afternoon, differing explanations were offered.

By early Tuesday evening, it appeared that the notification system that alerts to a shooter was used incorrectly by one of the organizations on the sprawling campus, but the organization was not identified.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and Facilitiesnet.com.

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