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"there is a shooter in the hallway!"

September 6, 2008
by Albert Villaria
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“…there is a shooter in the hallway!”

The ColumbineHigh School massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at ColumbineHigh School in Columbine in unincorporated Jefferson County, Colorado, near Denver and Littleton. Two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a shooting rampage, killing 12 students and a teacher, as well as wounding 23 others, before committing suicide. It is the fourth-deadliest school killing in United States history, after the 1927 BathSchool disaster, 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 1966 University of Texas massacre, and is the deadliest high school shooting.

Any Emergency Department (ED), hospital, school in the country or the office where you work, could fall prey to gun violence at any time day or night. According to the AmericanCollege of Emergency Medicine, ED statistics are on the rise and proactive steps are recommended to prevent injury. (1) In 1995, the greatest number of physical assaults (384) and the second largest number of homicides (8) occurring in hospitals occurred in emergency departments. Causes range from a national increase in gang violence, higher patient need for psychiatric evaluation due to the decrease in available behavior health inpatient beds, and increased drug and alcohol abuse – all manifesting anger in overcrowded waiting rooms and emergency departments.

“..Shots fired...Shots fired..!” Its March 6, 2009 and you hear those words from a coworker…what do you do?...where do you go?...how do you get help? Are you ready to save your life and the lives of others around you? The difference between walking out of your office or becoming a statistic may only be how you communicate the incident. If your facility or network supports a disaster alert system to get aid immediately, the chances of survival are greatly increased. (2) National guidelines for disaster and terrorism communications are have been developed and should be implemented by 2010.

At my Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, we have created a premier service for our 300 blackberry users, from the President of our network to our clinical division leadership and information systems teams. On October 1st, 2008 we will be deploying a network-wide program created called “STAT: CHAT”. Via third party software (Wallace Wireless) the Wireless Incident Command (WIC) center was developed to collect, disperse and oversee any alert or incident posted by our blackberry users. STAT incident notification is sent via our Blackberry Enterprise Service (BES) to pre-created users or groups and documented online via a web-based command data repository. Technical leadership by our network telecom manager, Jackie Davis, will provide expertise as we test this program and communication aspects during an upcoming annual Disaster Drill in October. We will expand the platform to support non-Blackberry cell phone users, computer-based alerts and physician or nursing beepers.
Technology is being developed to cope with many new questions. We are the conduits providing those answers for our colleagues and co-workers. Everyday, our IT work saves a life…someday it may even be yours. -------- (1) http://www.acep.org/advocacy.aspx?id=21830
(2) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/washington/10alert.html?_r=2&ex=1365652800&en=38c19766580cd11c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

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Albert Villaria

L. Albert Villarin, M.D....