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A year after a shooting, Renown makes adjustments to its security program


Armed officers, policy tweaks, and reeducation for all staff members have offered a more robust security department

A year after a shooting, Renown makes adjustments to its security program

Armed officers, policy tweaks, and reeducation for all staff members have offered a more robust security department

At approximately 2 p.m. on December 17, 2013, Alan Frazier walked into the Urology Nevada office at Renown Health Medical Center in Reno. When he approached the receptionist’s desk, he showed her a shotgun he was carrying under his jacket. Then, according to documents released in December, Frazier proceeded to calmly walk through the clinic in a two-minute rampage, injuring a doctor and an employee, and killing another doctor before turning the gun on himself.

More than a year later, Renown has made some changes to their security training and protocol, including the addition of armed officers on campus.

“[The shooting] just gave us a chance to step back and say, ‘Are there things we could be doing things differently or better?’” says Dawn Ahner, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Renown.

Although the health system didn’t make many wholesale security changes, it focused on specific adjustments to policies and procedures, such as adding security codes that correlated to specific security events. Renown has also added more comprehensive de-escalation training for physicians and staff.

“We spent a lot of time on education and training,” Ahner says. “Those have been the primary areas of focus since the event, and really getting awareness and education out there, amongst not just our employees, but also some of our independent physician practices.”

Opting for armed officers

In the year following the incident, Renown spent a lot of time evaluating the benefits of armed officers and deciding whether it was the right approach for the system. Ultimately, after doing some site visits and observation, leadership decided to contract with G4S, an international security contractor.

“It wasn’t a decision we made lightly and it was one we did a lot of homework on before coming to that conclusion,” Ahner says.

Renown’s director of security, Keith Payne, says the officers will be a part of tiered approach to security, adding to the unarmed officers that are already on staff. Although the officers are not on campus yet, Payne says the contract will be finalized in the “very near future.”

One of the issues that Renown faces is its location. Ahner says the campus is the only trauma center located between Sacramento and Salt Lake City and she estimates that close to 4,000 patients come to the campus each day. Both of these factors weighed heavily in the decision to make the move towards armed guards.

“I think they provide a level of expertise that, not that we couldn’t replicate with employees, but they are in the business of doing this,” Ahner says.

She adds that another layer of the decision process was devoted towards perception. System leaders wanted to maintain a welcoming environment and they were aware of the perception that armed officers might create. In the end, they had to balance that issue with that of safety and response.

“We obviously weighed that against providing the ability to very quickly address a security issue, if for some reason our local law enforcement were tied up elsewhere,” she says.

A more comprehensive training approach

Payne says that security officer training has not changed drastically, but the system has enhanced de-escalation training for clinicians and staff members.

Ahner adds that they had a number of employees, even from outside medical offices call and request training because their staff was nervous in the aftermath of the event. Renown has focused on specified training for active shooter scenarios, something the health system was beginning to focus on before last year’s event, Payne says.

The biggest change has been the increased sense of awareness, Ahner says. While last year’s event certainly grabbed the attention of staff members, healthcare workers are also reading about shooting events more frequently, which has changed the attitude for everyone involved.

“Everyone, down to a staff member walking down a hallway, instead of looking at their phone, we talk about looking around and making eye contact with folks in your facility, because this is not just the security department’s issue, this is everyone’s issue on the campus,” Ahner says


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