CoxHealth practices for armed intruder threat

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - CoxHealth practiced for an armed intruder situation Monday at Cox South.

CoxHealth held the event with the Springfield Police Department, Springfield Fire Department, Greene County Sheriff's Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol and other public safety officials.

John Elmore, CoxHealth's Certified Training and Exercise Specialist, said partnership with law enforcement is important because the hospital does not have enough security to handle an active threat on its own.

"We just don’t have the resources available so we’re going to have to reach out to them to help provide some resources to combat the intruder as he enters through the facility," Elmore said.

Elmore said the training will include an individual running through designated areas in the hospital acting as the armed intruder.

"[They will be] unfortunately doing what we’ve been hearing about a lot on the news- creating havoc, causing mass casualties, wounds and our guys will respond accordingly," he said.

In April, CoxHealth had a false report of an armed intruder at the Martin Center. Elmore said this training was already in the works before that incident.

"That was more of a coincidence. This is something we’ve been planning for over a year. To get this level of an exercise, it takes that long to plan," he said.

Tabitha Fritz is a student volunteering to act as a wounded patient in the event. Makeup artists gave her a fake broken leg, making it look like the bone was sticking out of her shin.

"Right now, getting ready for it is fun, you get to do all these awesome tricks with your body, like makeup and stuff, but in the moment, it’s super serious and everyone gets into the role," Fritz said.

CoxHealth's Branson campus had a similar drill last year. Elmore said he wishes the hospital could practice these events weekly.

"If I walk into a facility and they’re practicing something like this, I think that’d be great," he said. "At least I know now their facility or that particular business is doing everything in their power to make sure I’m safe when I come through the doors."

Fritz said this kind of training is important, because active threat situations can happen "any day and anywhere."

"We have to know what to do and how to get everyone to a safe place," she said.

The drill started at 5:30 p.m. Monday. CoxHealth stated patient care will continue as normal at Cox South and patients and guests should be aware the drill was not a real event.