Grand Forks, B.C Jan 15 2017
Demands for improvements to security is at the top of the list for one West Kootenay hospital after a man walked into their emergency room, pulled out a gun and shot himself.
BC Nurses’ Union President (BCNU) Gayle Duteil said nurses and front-line staff at Boundary District Hospital in. are traumatized after the incident on Thursday night.
The victim was airlifted to a Vancouver-area hospital, where his injuries were treated and is in stable condition.
Duteil said in a statement that while the staff acted “quickly and professionally during the frightening incident”, the shooting only highlights the growing concern of violence and weapons in emergency rooms around the province.
According to reports, the man entered the hospital through the ambulance bay at the back of the hospital and did not say anything before he shot himself.
“There wasn’t a lot of forewarning and staff were caught off-guard,” Duteil said.
“Of course they are extremely distraught as a result. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is nothing protecting our members and other front-line staff from this sort of violence. I fear that the problem is only going to get worse.”
No other people were injured in the incident as patients were quickly moved from the emergency room to a safer location in the hospital. Both an ER doctor and manager looked after the victim.
Both the Interior Health’s crisis management team and the RCMP’s Victim Services are on-site helping the nurses and front-line staff deal with the incident.
On Friday morning, the BCNU spoke to the leadership at Interior Health to discuss partnering in order to address the problem and figure out an effective plan that better protects front-line hospital staff. The plan, Duteil says, would need to involve the Ministry of Health and government resources.
Duteil says the shooting is something she’d expect to see at hospitals in larger city centres but that it highlights the fact that smaller communities are not immune to this type of violence.
“At many of these small hospitals, there isn’t a security guard or any line of defense between the front door and the triage area,” she says.
“Sometimes locking the doors after hours is the only option.”
Currently there is no protocol for entering emergency rooms in B.C., Duteil says.
Grand Forks RCMP said a weapon was seized at the hospital and there is no additional risk to the public.
The investigation is ongoing and Mounties are asking anyone who has not spoken to police to contact the Grand Forks detachment.