Or Seattle Grace active shooter fail
I’m by no means a security expert, but been around in the industry enough to pick up on glaring inconsistencies in Grey’s Anatomy 2-episode finale. If you have not seen it: a disgruntled husband of a patient shows up at Seattle Grace with a newly acquired gun, and starts shooting people, primarily surgeons. Without prior military training, he evades SWAT for 2 episodes, kills multiple people in various locations at the hospital, and generally has a free reign on the entire facility. Police response is at best slow, at worst extremely ineffective. The episode concludes with a former chief of surgery getting to the shooter first and talking him into committing suicide.
Zero preparedness for an emergency situation
Chief of surgery fumbles through the manual to find out what to do when there’s a shooter on the loose; chief of security has no clue either and is nowhere to be seen throughout the episode. In the post Virginia Tech world don’t public facilities have drills to deal with situations like this?
Absence of a security system
Where are the security cameras? Access control system? The hospital appears to have no security system, apart from a few guards. It’s hard to imagine that a modern facility such as Seattle Grace would have no electronic security at all. I imagine a “lock down” would automatically seal off the area through electronic controls, so that a shooter is not left wandering the halls for 2 entire episodes. Cameras could be used to track the shooter’s movements, and to assess victims’ status (in the episode, people died because help could not get to them in time).
Police and SWAT team are mumbling idiots
The entire city of Seattle apparently has only one SWAT team, who take their time searching the facility and then injure the shooter, but somehow (thanks to a commercial break) lose him. The police operation outside the hospital is a joke and they let people slip back into the hospital! Where are the police cordons, the field command unit? I surely hope that if something like happened in real life, the response would be more efficient.
IP video and wireless mesh video transmission can aid in response
I’ve talked to enough police departments who have to respond to emergencies, including active shooter, barricade or hostage situations. IP video systems are changing the way they respond to situations like the one depicted in Grey’s finale. For example, with an IP video system, it’s easy to gain remote access, and then stream video to the mobile command center and exit points over the mesh links. From there, it can be relayed (over microwave or existing fixed mesh infrastructure) to the PD’s headquarters where high-level decision makers can get involved.
The complete lack of any type of electronic security at Seattle Grace was baffling. I hope I’m not being too optimistic that our medical facilities are better secured than as was depicted on Grey’s Anatomy.
I’d be curious to know what real physical security experts thought of the episode.
Other posts on the subject:
- Here’s the take by Sam Pfeifle of Security Systems News: Ksenia’s right: Grey’s Anatomy finale was a joke!
- Another great post: Gray’s Anatomy misses the mark with Active Shooter Response
- For a detailed explanation on how and why police response to active shooter situations changed over the years, see Active Shooter Police Training: A Modern Police Necessity (explains why ABC’s version is at least 20 years behind the curve)