In 1991, a man entered the Alta View Hospital in Sandy, Utah and took hostages in an attempt to kill his wife's doctor (for more info go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alta_View_Hospital). This resulted in the death of one nurse. Some of the hostages developed Stockholm Syndrome and testified on his behalf. Alta View Hospital is apart of Intermountain Heath Care; the same company I now work for. In 1998, a student entered Thurston High School and opened fired in the schools cafeteria, killing 2 and injuring 25 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurston_high_school_shooting). Thurston High School was only 45 minutes south of where I lived. Our football team played theirs in a state play off game. One year later, two students enter Columbine High School and begin to massacre their fellow students. I remember hearing that the two students targeted some students for their belief in God. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre).
Today, our hospital in conjunction with the city police department, an active shooter/disaster drill took place. The things learned from the hostage situation at Alta View has become a vital tool for Intermountain Health Care in dealing with such situations. This drill was to help the American Fork Hospital and the American Fork Police Department learn those vital tools.
We were told of what to expect and to continue working. They kept the drill to the administration offices (where I happen to work), so they would not bother the patients or disrupt patient care. We were made aware that shots of blanks would be fired. Announcements were made and patients were informed. A security officer made a special announcement in the gift shop while I was getting something to drink. He informed us this was a drill, explained what would happen and told us not to rush the gun man. I returned to my office, safe and out of the way.
I was working in a room of the department that is secure ( you cannot enter unless you have badge access), when I heard some one yelling and a gun fire. There is a small window on the door and I saw the "shooter" swiftly walking towards the administrators office yelling. He was carrying an assault rifle. I was startled more by the yelling then the gun firing. I looked out the window and saw the shell casing of the blank that was shot lying on the ground. Two of my coworkers joined me in the room and the three of us stood there as morbid bystanders, laughing, talking and giggling about the current situation. When suddenly, we heard the SWAT team yell: "Get down! Get down, Now!"
My two co-workers turned around and booked it for the door. I have to say I was laughing HYSTERICALLY as these two women scrambled to get out of the way. We all laughed about what happened but then watched from a safer distance. I watched through the door window for a few minutes as the SWAT team tried to move in with their very big and scary looking guns.
I was already a half day behind in my work and didn't have anymore time to gawk and be a morbid bystander anymore so I went back to work. Later, I had to go back into the room and saw as a couple of SWAT members removed a "wounded hostage". No more than a 15 minutes after the "shooter" entered the building, our department was evacuated. We walked outside the hospital and enjoyed a few minutes of sunshine. We were told that we could reenter our office but when we got to the outside door, through the door window we saw the SWAT team still there with guns drawn. We couldn't get back in.
Forty-five minutes after we had evacuated, we were finally able to return to work and everything went back to normal. The worst part of all of this: I went from being a half day behind in work to almost a full day!
During the entire drill, I knew it was a drill and was never scared but more frustrated that I couldn't work. When all of it was over, I reflected upon all that I had seen and had been apart of and not just the things that happened today. I was never in harms way, I had been well informed and I had even laughed about what had been going on. But all of this began to affect me deeply. It was all pretend but the reality of it all sunk in very deeply.
I reflected upon my own beliefs and character. I wondered: how would I really have reacted if this was real? Would I have helped my co-workers or been a coward? Could I or would I be able to develop Stockholm Syndrome? I thought of the "shooter", how would I feel about them? How do I treat others? Will I stand and say: "Yes, I believe in God." ?
With out a doubt in my mind, I know that I will stand and say: "Yes, I believe in God!" but I don't know how to honestly answer some of the other questions I had. Right now, I can't get the "shooter" out of my head. I can still hear him yelling and the gun firing. I know that will go away.
Today, I had the incredible opportunity today to witness a SWAT exercise, gain some vital tools for work and reflect on my beliefs and character.