Naval Hospital Calls Code White over Shooting Report
An alarm about possible shots fired at Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, CA, instantly triggered a "code white" hospital alert, along with a full blown military response this morning—complete with SWAT teams, hospital workers and visitors forced to file out with their hands up and submit to pat-downs by armed personnel, school lockdowns, and highway closings. The code when used in military hospitals signals "shelter in place."
Several hours into an ongoing room-by-room search, complete with trained search dogs, it was widely assumed that there had been no shooting.
But no one in charge was suggesting that the response was overblown.
“It’s the new reality for the entire country, we to take all these reports seriously,” said US Navy Capt. Curt Jones, talking to reporters this afternoon as a hospital building was being searched and partly evacuated. “We took appropriate steps,” he said.
A similar incident occurred at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, DC in July, 2015. There a report of a shot fired turned out to be false but resulted in a lockdown and major emergency and police response.
In San Diego, the surgeon in charge of the 285-bed general medical and surgical hospital Capt. Jose Acosta, MD, said patient care was not affected and that the only patients diverted from the hospital were those coming in for pharmacy visits or other non-emergency care.
Public awareness of the incident began with the hospital’s post on its Facebook page.
The message said “**!Attention!** An active shooter has just been reported in building #26 “
Occupants were advised to “run, fight, or hide”, the new standard military and law enforcement advice for surviving a shooting.
As armed personnel converged on the scene, news stations launched helicopters, and Twitter lit up with posts that were sometimes personal—concerns over relatives (“My mom’s in that building”) or expressions of fear and outrage over gun violence.
There was no immediate explanation of who made the initial report, though one TV news station said it was a female phone-caller. Capt. Jones said only that it was a person in the building. When asked whether that person faced any possible negative consequences he said that to the contrary, it was an appropriate act.
“We take all reports seriously we do a lot of training in event of active shooter,” he said.
Such concerns have been heightened by recent mass shootings, such as the December attacks on government workers at a holiday party in San Bernadino, CA, not far from San Diego.
The topic of what to do about gun violence is much on physicians' minds.
Read the results of MD Magazine’s Jan.16 poll including the 10 most angry responses to the poll’s questions. A Los Angeles physician writes about his own experience with the massacre in San Bernadino, CA here.