MOUNT VERNON — Wednesday was not a usual day in Knox Community Hospital’s emergency department. A nurse was taken hostage inside a triage room. While patients at the ER were being evacuated, a hazardous materials team responded to a situation of people exposed to gasoline from a nearby automobile crash. The scenario was part of a mock disaster drill planned to give hospital personnel some on-the-job disaster training.
“We always want to be disaster-preparedness ready,” said Prema Samhat, director of marketing, community relations and development at KCH. “We want our people to know what their roles and responsibilities are. First and foremost, it’s patient safety ... then employee safety and facility safety.”
A Code Silver alert, which refers to a weapon involved, was issued at the hospital when the hostage situation occurred at the triage room. ER personnel quickly contacted the police department and 9-1-1 with an Emergency Services Unit team arriving quickly to handle the situation.
“We actually did not have a weapon in sight because we didn’t want to panic anyone,” said Dr. Judy Schwartz, vice president of medical affairs. The source of how the ER personnel discovered the hostage situation would not be revealed as to keep their resources confidential.
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