At 9:50 a.m., Northeast Georgia Medical Center officials heard reports of “shots fired.”
Within 10 minutes, roughly a dozen stood gathered around a command center table assessing the response to a simulated scenario intended to evaluate their response.
“We at the hospital have been funding tactical emergency casualty care classes for our first responders over the past year … so that they’re better prepared for how to deal with an active shooter, active threat situation, to work as a team and a community so they can successfully take care of the patients and bring them to us,” NGMC’s emergency preparedness manager Matthew Crumpton said.
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office, the Hall County EMA, Hall County Fire Services, Gainesville Fire and Gainesville Police participated in the exercise beginning as an “active shooter full-scale exercise” at the Allen Creek Training Center.
Hospital officials kept continual communication with the hospitals in Braselton and Barrow.
In keeping with the real-world aesthetic, hospital participants pooled their blood products, putting them in coolers and keeping them climate controlled.
“Every time we have a trauma patient that comes in, they do it for that one patient, but this was for 20 (patients),” Crumpton said.
Crumpton said the exercise focused on shifting the command from law enforcement to fire services and finally to hospital personnel.
“The associated law enforcement agencies objectives will be to identify and neutralize an active shooter(s) while the associated fire and emergency services agencies objectives will be to triage and transport multiple critical patients to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville to facilitate a surge in patients for the hospital,” according to an advisory about the exercise.
Hall County Fire Services Capt. Zachary Brackett said they were responsible for transporting 20 patients, with seven deemed in critical condition.
“We identified how we can communicate with law enforcement and law enforcement can communicate with us … like the on-scene communication, not getting caught up in the chaos,” Brackett said.