Waupun Memorial Hospital Active Threat Exercise

 It wasn’t a typical day at Waupun Memorial Hospital recently. Something was different. Something seemed unexpected and alarming.

But thanks to preplanning and support from community partners – including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services (EMS) and emergency management – Waupun Memorial Hospital, its staff and patients are better because of it.

            Following months of extensive planning, Waupun Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Management Committee conducted an active threat drill under the pretend scenario that a disgruntled former employee returns to the hospital seeking his former boss.

            For approximately an hour, Waupun Memorial Hospital leaders and area first responders walked the facility playing out the scenario, and then following up with questions and further education with associates on the route.

            To help prepare for such an incident, associates benefited from an educational presentation from Jason Hraban, an officer with the City of Waupun Police Department. During these hour-long sessions, participants learned what an active threat is, responding law enforcement expectations, basic responses from associates, and actions following an active threat situation.

            “This is the first time we have practiced an active threat situation at our facility,” says DeAnn Thurmer, Waupun Memorial Hospital chief operating officer. “We are so fortunate to have a strong collaboration with area first responders, and in today’s scenario, it felt good to know that we would not go through this alone. Having their support and knowledge is truly a blessing.”

            Using this as an educational opportunity with associates was one of the greatest benefits of running an active threat drill. “Having this exercise will pay dividends to the associates, providers and volunteers at the hospital if this situation would ever play out,” says Dale Heeringa, City of Waupun Police Department chief. “We know that people are 50 percent safer when they have mental plan of how they would stay safe or escape during an active threat. You never know how you will react in a situation like this so it’s good to plan ahead. The drill went quite well and it will help keep staff have these plans and ready in place if the need ever arises.”

            Dale Schmidt, Dodge County sheriff, concurs. 

“I believe that the drill was very successful and that input was gathered in a manner that will allow for more productive exercises in the future. Valuable information was discovered in regards to technology limitations, reaction of associates, and the need for structure in a chaotic situation. 

“No one is ever ready for an active threat, but training on the event before it potentially could happen, gives them the opportunity to have real life experience to draw on when making their plan,” Schmidt adds.

And, having so many resources around the planning table set the stage for a successful drill.

“Law enforcement, fire, EMS, emergency management and others need to be at the table as we all have a vital role to play in the response to any kind of active threat,” according to Schmidt. “Those who practice the way they play will be more prepared if an actual incident occurs. This will make the overall plan for the safety of Waupun Memorial Hospital one that minimizes risk, saves lives, and allows for improved response and recovery to a critical incident.”