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Keep response in perspective

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Editorial: Aug. 19, 2012

When an unidentified patient shot and killed himself Aug. 7 at Hardin Memorial Hospital, staff members reacted admirably, a hospital official said.

Just as they might have trained for a tornado or earthquake, staff members have been trained on protocol for a shooting for about a year.

When shots were fired in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on the second floor, the staff went into emergency mode.

A code blue, an alert that immediate medical attention and possible resuscitation was needed, quickly was followed by a code silver, an alert for a shooting.

The area of the shooting, two shots the patient aimed at himself, was locked down briefly while officials assessed the situation.

Those involved should be commended for thinking and acting quickly in circumstances that were unclear at first and could have become chaotic.

Still, the incident triggers thoughts about proactive measures. Mostly, should staff take steps to better ensure hospital visitors and patients aren’t bringing weapons into the facility?

Police believe the patient brought a gun with him when he was admitted from another facility the night before the shooting.

Questions about security measures won’t be answered easily. Based on what we know about the situation, a calm, steady approach is needed. Not a knee jerk, not an overhaul.

For one thing, the community might prefer to keep the access they’ve enjoyed whether they were seeking medical treatment or visiting a patient.

Secondly, extreme security for a facility as large as HMH would be an expensive effort. Just a quick glance from Dixie Avenue reveals multiple entrances and each would need to be staffed. Equipment would be required, too.

The hospital is a building open to the public. If we need to monitor every coming and going there, where else do we need to beef up security? Do we want to be screened at department stores or restaurants, too?

The situation must be reviewed and leaders will have to ask themselves what reasonably could have been done differently. And then, they’ll be obligated to provide every reasonable protection.

There’s more than one place to look for help if you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide. Don’t be afraid to get help.

The editorial represents the consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

There’s more than one place to look for help if you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide. Don’t be afraid to get help.

COMMUNICARE CRISIS HOTLINE
1-800-641-4673, 24 hours a day, seven days a week

LINCOLN TRAIL BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEM
1-800-274-7374, 24 hours a day, seven days a week

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

VETERANS CRISIS LINE/LIFELINE NETWORK
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration has founded a national suicide prevention hotline to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors.

ISSUE: Patient suicide at HMH
OUR VIEW: Review, action should be measured