WARRENSBURG, Mo. — Hospital employees and first responders train for active shooter situations. Thankfully, the Warrensburg fire chief said everything unfolded to plan Friday after a threat.
Law enforcement worked to evacuate Western Missouri Medical Center following the threat of an active shooter Friday morning, according to MSHP Trooper Bill Lowe.
One man who threatened the hospital is in custody and will be held for at least a day. But in the end, Lowe said the suspect was never on the hospital’s property or inside the hospital Friday.
“There was nobody on the premises with a long gun. There was no one in the hospital with a long gun,” Lowe said.
But before the hospital was cleared, one employee at Western Missouri Medical Center said she was trapped inside a chart room on the third floor when they went into lockdown.
“It was terrible,” one hospital employee who didn’t want to share their name said.
Patients and staff had a wide range of emotions. Grateful to be OK, but shocked and scared that this actually happened to them.
“We’ve been here since ’86, and this is the first time anything has happened,” patient Wayne Woodworth said.
The news that there was no one with a gun on hospital property was a sigh of relief for staff and patients, but that doesn’t take away the fear they all felt when they went on lockdown.
One hospital employee has a message to the person responsible for the scare.
“Just don’t do it. It hurts a lot of people, I mean, sick people,” the employee said. “You just can’t, you just don’t trust anybody. Like it’s sad. You can’t trust anybody anymore.”
Jeweleeona Hakes said she couldn’t get to her 9 a.m. appointment at the hospital. Emergency vehicles were blocking off streets to keep people safe.
“I was pretty scared for everybody that’s in there I know a lot of my friends work there,” Hakes said. “I saw a lot of kids exiting out of the area, which was pretty scary.”
First responders secured the hospital, then evacuated employees and patients. Over the last few years, they’ve done active shooting training and drills with the hospital, according to Fire Chief Ken Jennings.
“That paid off dividends today,” Jennings said.
They were aware of challenges, like bad communication spots in the hospital.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” Jennings said.
Not starting from scratch means moving forward quickly and keeping more people out of harm’s way.
“Everybody, I think, was safe. Obviously, a lot of stress for everybody involved,” Jennings said. “I think this is as best an outcome that we can work for and hopefully never have to do it again.”
Three hours after the situation began, patients were allowed back inside the hospital and doctors began seeing people again.
There is now an investigation underway to determine exactly how the threat was made. Lowe said troopers would look at social media and other angles while investigating the threat.
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