An angry man opened fire, wounding and killing hospital staff and patients Wednesday morning during an “active shooter” drill at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta.
“It’s our first official drill,” said Kathryn Stiles, spokeswoman for Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta. “A disgruntled individual came into the ER waiting room and asked some questions and was unhappy with the answer and pulled out a weapon.”
Today marked the first of a two-day series of emergencies drills planned at hospitals throughout Riverside County.
In total, twelve medical facilities will take part in the active shooter drill between 9 a.m. and noon.
The shooter — who entered through the emergency room — was wearing all black and used an orange Nerf gun to simulate a real weapon.
“We had at least 15 staged casualties,” Stiles said while standing in a hospital hallway.
According to Stiles, all victims sustained different simulated injuries to test the different departments within the hospital.
“We staged the victims so they would be moved throughout the hospital, so that we can test the function of the entire hospital,” Stiles said.
“This is a situation that, of course, we hope to never have to face,” said Kim Saruwatari, head of the county’s Emergency Preparedness and Response division, which coordinated the event.
“But this is a possible reality in today’s world and it is important that health care providers be prepared in case the unthinkable happens,” Saruwatari said.
Victims were scattered throughout the emergency room waiting room.
“This just makes you think of where you’re going to go and what you’re going to do (in the event of an emergency),” said Dana Morgan who was grazed by a bullet during the simulation. “It was scary, and helpful.”
“This helps us see what we are lacking and where we are strong,” Morgan said.
Zuzzette Bricker, Emergency Services Coordinator for Riverside County Fire Office of Emergency Services, was on location today to evaluate the performance of the hospital.
“Today is part of a two-day drill where we are working with our hospitals so that we can evaluate and make sure all the processes are in place in the event of an active shooter,” Bricker said. “It helps the hospital make sure they have process in place so that in the event of a real active shooter they know exactly what needs to happen.”
“They are doing good,” Bricker said. “They are going to find out some systems they need to work on. For the most part, they have been doing really well as far as remaining calm and (doing) what needs to happen.”
The gunman had no care for human life and shot anyone and everything during the drill.
“A shooter came in looking for his wife and his wife did not want to see him, so he started shooting,” said Sylvia Crawford who was shot and killed during the simulation. “He was shooting everybody and shot me in the head.”
“He shot everybody that was in his way, sitting or standing.”
Although today’s shooting was just a simulation it still had people scared for their lives.
Crawford added: “It was really scary.”
Daniel Lane is a local writer/photographer and regular contributor to SWRNN.