A common belief many people have is that an active shooter situation will never happen to them.

But after a Texas senior living facility was faced with a similar scare on Saturday, an emergency preparedness expert is calling on all providers to implement multiple security measures and personalized training so they can be ready just in case anything similar happens to them. 

Vernon Jeffery

“Preparedness and training [are] very important,” said Vernon Jeffery, chief strategist with Readiness Associates, which offers emergency preparedness, business continuity and disaster risk-reduction services to long-term care facilities and other healthcare organizations.

When looking at the ecosystem of a long-term care facility, an act of violence can come from many places — residents, staff members, guests, vendors and contractors, Jeffery explained, adding that the likelihood of a totally random shooting happening at a facility is rare.  

“A person just doesn’t show up out of nowhere,” Jeffery told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. “When you look at the different populations that are there, there’s more of a likelihood that an incidence of violence will occur from someone that has at least a small relationship with the facility — whether they work there, or a resident there, or a guest. It’s going to be a rare situation where people from the outside would come in.” 

He stressed the importance of providers having checkpoints at every entry in each building and suggested they incorporate a color-coded guest system that only allows certain people in specific areas. 

“It would alert the staff members if a guest has gotten away from where their resident is,” he said. 

Additionally, facilities should have personalized policies and procedures on emergency preparedness on potential active shooter situations. Those policies should be reviewed by new and long-time staff members every few months. Training simulations and emergency preparedness exercises should be reviewed by a facility’s board, and regularly executed.

“The organization may have a policy and emergency plan but there’s not a regular effort to make sure everyone is aware of that,” he said. “When a new hire comes in, emergency preparedness and active shooter training should definitely be something that they review.” 

Jeffery added that providers should use an all-hazards approach when preparing for emergency situations. The approach encourages providers to have a strong infrastructure in place for staff members for any type of incident that may occur. 

“There’s always that feeling of, ‘Oh, this would never happen to me.’ That’s still out there. Fortunately, we do emphasize an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness,” Jeffery said. “You have your vigilance up when you’re noticing interruptions to normal, everyday occurrences.”