News & Events

Armed Intruder Response Training: Volunteers Step Up to the Challenge of our New Reality

June 10, 2016

In the wake of mass tragedies such as those in Sandy Hook, California and Paris, Hartford Healthcare announced plans to take steps to improve the organization’s readiness to respond in the unlikely event that the unthinkable happens – and that process has already begun in the East Region.

“It’s one of the most impactful trainings I have ever been through. I have never felt as prepared or competent to respond to an armed threat to keep my students, staff, and me safe,” said Shawn Cyr, assistant director of school programs at Natchaug, who was one of several dozen East Region employees to volunteer for armed intruder/active shooter training earlier this month.

The training is being offered to better prepare employees to protect themselves and customers in this new reality. The Armed Intruder Response initiative will eventually provide online safety training for every employee, followed by hands-on practice and drills led by trained HHC volunteers.

“No place, no person, no organization is immune from the possibility of violence,’’ HHC President and CEO Elliot Joseph said in a recent letter to staff. “That’s our reality.’’

So far, more than 130 employees from all levels and most locations across the system have answered the call for volunteers.

The training in the East Region was a two-day train-the-trainer certification program, preparing volunteers to teach their colleagues some of the most effective strategies and techniques to improve survival in case of a mass assault.

Because armed intruder events can be unpredictable and usually evolve quickly, bystanders must often take action before law enforcement authorities have time to step in. Thus, civilians must be prepared mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

The training, provided by the ALICE Training Institute, included a research-based lecture on the psychology of the shooter, followed by intensive practice of tactics for evacuating a room or building, fortifying your surroundings and, if absolutely necessary, confronting the armed intruder.

The skills followed the ALICE acronym, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, although the steps do not have to be followed in that order. In addition to practicing these skills in real offices and public areas, volunteer trainers collaborated about the best ways to share this information with every employee across HHC.

HHC is partnering with the ALICE Training Institute to bring training to all employees, including contractors and per-diems. Education will consist of a 45-minute e-learning module (computer or tablet) that will be made available soon. Every employee is encouraged to complete the online course. E-learning will be followed by one-hour instructor-led drills and demonstrations conducted by the newly–certified volunteers. Drills and demonstrations will be conducted during monthly huddles or other meetings as appropriate.

“It’s one of the most beneficial training experiences I’ve ever been through!

Throughout our training, we proved that very simple counter actions will have incredibly positive results. Being prepared for an armed intruder is easier than you think!,” said Gail Murphy, a medical assistant in the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group office in Storrs.