Viera Hospital Stages Health First’s Third Active Shooter Drill, Awareness and Preparation are Critical

By  //  July 6, 2022

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More than 400 Viera Hospital associates participated inactive shooter drills

WATCH: Health First System Director of Security Robin Rice and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey address news media during today’s active shooter training drill at Viera Hospital. More than 400 Viera Hospital associates participated in today’s active shooter drills – the third of five such events Health First is hosting this summer.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey: Awareness and Preparation in Any Setting are Critical

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – More than 400 Viera Hospital associates participated in today’s active shooter drills – the third of five such events Health First is hosting this summer.

The event was also attended by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, in addition to representatives from many other organizations and hospital systems from across the county.

Health First officials partnered with local law enforcement and first responder organizations to create five half-day drill programs over the summer – one for each hospital and a clinical office facility.

Coming on the heels of numerous high-profile active shooter events across the country just this summer, most notably the school shooting in Uvalde, TX and this week’s Fourth of July mass shooting at a community parade, the message today was clear: No place is immune from acts of aggression and violence, but being aware of your surroundings and being ready to respond can save your life – and those around you.

Health First System Director of Security Robin Rice and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey address news media during today’s active shooter training drill at Viera Hospital. (Health First image)

“I think the message today is pretty clear – be prepared,” said Sheriff Ivey.

“Don’t let something like this happen in your backyard where you haven’t prepared to defend and protect the people you are here for. These associates are going to take an important lesson away from here today to their homes, friends, coworkers and families. It’s unrealistic in this day and age to think that active shooter situations can’t happen, no matter how safe your community is.”

“Another thing that we see playing out here today – you see the hospital security team working with us and law enforcement, you see them working with their team members and associates, you see us working with our partners, including Brevard Fire Rescue so that if an incident does go down were able to work that incident from the very beginning to save lives,” Ivey continued.

More than 400 (25 teams) Viera Hospital associates lined up to take part in today’s live active shooter drill. (Health First image) 

In today’s scenario, participants – grouped into approximately 25 teams – were asked to perform simulated tasks identical to their assigned work duties. They must follow life-saving instructions despite the noise and confusion occurring at the scene.

Associates who voluntarily participate in these drills have (like all associates) annually reviewed active-shooter instruction as part of their required e-learning activities – but many have not participated in a live-action drill of this capacity.

“This is a huge team of professionals coming together from many areas of discipline across the organization. We saw many of our associates go through this drill today who made very good decisions under very difficult circumstances, so we know the pre-education and the actual drills are making an impact. The best thing we can do for our staff is to equip them with information and skills,” said Robin Rice, System Director of Security for Health First.

“This is not a typical drill that hospitals ordinarily create. Most nurses, for instance, have never heard what real gunfire sounds like, let alone in a closed space work environment. We want all of our associates, no matter their role or responsibility, to have that real life experience and be ready to respond, not just in a workplace scenario, but anywhere out in public they may be.”

The Health First events have been developed to be as realistic as possible, including use of hostile language and tone, simulated chaos, and the use of real weapons by both law enforcement and the shooter that fired (very loud) blanks.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey addresses a group of Viera Hospital associates during a post-drill “hotwash” briefing. (Health First image)

Health First utilized an unused wing of the hospital for this activity, and safety officials took every precaution, including soundproofing the wing, overcommunicating to staff, visitors and patients – including signage throughout the facility – that ensured patients and visitors were not affected or exposed to noise or activity in any way.

“These drills are an opportunity for us to not only help keep our patients and visitors safe – but our associates, as well. We’re very pleased with the rate of participation and eagerness our associates have shown through the first three days. It demonstrates their dedication and commitment to protecting our most vulnerable – as well as themselves,” said Rice.

“We have, in consultation with our law enforcement and first responder colleagues, designed this drill to be as true-to-life as possible. It does involve the discharge of real guns (with blank ammunition.) It does include language, tone and conduct one might not ordinarily expect to see in a public setting – but very well may in a dangerous and hostile scenario.

“We will be videotaping each drill and playing it back with associates after they complete their turn – walking them through their actions and responses. We have many visitors with us today from healthcare systems across the state and Southeast U.S. I am proud that this program will serve as a model for other organizations to follow,” Rice continued.

Robert Contreras, Health First Emergency Preparedness Manager, walks a group of associates through video feedback from their individual active shooter drill at Viera Hospital. (Health First image)
Members of today’s Viera Hospital Active Shooter Training Drill, including hospital staff, volunteers, and law enforcement gather in the Viera Hospital lobby at the conclusion of today’s event involving over 400 Health First associates. (Health First image)

Visit HF.org/news_and_events to find out what’s happening at Health First.

About Health First: 
Founded in 1995, Health First is Brevard County’s not-for-profit, community healthcare system. The fully integrated delivery network (IDN) includes health insurance plans, hospitals, a multi-specialty medical group, and outpatient and wellness services. As a locally owned, not-for-profit organization, Health First is committed to investing in our community. In 2020, Health First provided more than $184 million in community support.

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