Are Jacksonville hospitals prepared for an active shooter scenario?

Facilities taking 2nd look at procedures following shooting in Chicago

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Workers at the Chicago hospital where a gunman fatally shot his ex-fiancée and two others had gone through their first active-shooter drill only a few weeks ago, and now, health care administrators across the country are taking a second look at their security procedures.

Police say Dr. Tamara O'Neal was killed outside the hospital by her ex-fiance, who also fatally shot a responding police officer and a pharmacy resident inside the hospital. The gunman also was killed.

"More than half of these situations are actually domestic issues that spill over into the workplace," said Martin Lopez, a Jacksonville-based security consultant.

Lopez specializes in active shooter situations. He says hospitals around Jacksonville can be viewed as soft targets.

"Some of them have armed guards, some of them do not," Lopez said. "But at the end of the day, when you have multiple exits, multiple entry points, lots of people that are walking around, nobody knows who they are ... that's a risk."

News4Jax checked with Jacksonville hospitals and many sent out notes to their staff in light of the shooting in Chicago.

Baptist Medical Center and Wolfson Children's Hospital said they have team member training "created by experts in the fields of law enforcement and emergency management."

Flagler Hospital says it "launched several new security measures just yesterday (Monday) and will continue to implement further enhancements over the next several months."

Mayo Clinic said it teaches Homeland Security's "Run, Hide, Fight" education effort, which is the same mantra used by hospital staff members at Mercy Hospital in Chicago.

Jacksonville facilities haven't been immune to acts of violence. 12 years ago on Nov. 12, 2006, a patient shot and killed the pharmacy manager at UF Health, which was formerly known as Shands.

The same year, a man shot three of his relatives in the parking lot of Baptist Medical Center Nassau killing one and wounding the others before taking his own life.

In 2008, a man shot his son and killed the boy's mother at the Baptist Medical Center downtown parking garage before killing himself.

"A lot of people think that buying tools or devices or metal detectors or hiring more armed guards is the answer. It's part of the solution," Lopez said. "Every single person needs to be trained. Everybody needs to know exactly what their responsibilities are."

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.