The Code Silver Exercise: a low-cost simulation alternative to prepare hospitals for an active shooter event

LHSC-JK-Code Silver Exercise

London Health Sciences Center (ED)

Mass-shooting incidents have been increasing in recent years and Code Silver—the hospital response to a person with a weapon such as an active shooter in many Provinces or States in North America—is quickly shifting from a theoretical safety measure to a realistic scenario for which hospitals must prepare their staff. A Code Silver Exercise (CSE) involving an independent mental practice exercise with written responses to scenarios and questions, followed by a facilitated debrief with all participants, was conceptualized and trialled for feasibility and efficacy. The CSE was piloted as a quality improvement and emergency preparedness initiative in three different settings including in situ within a hospital Emergency Department or Intensive Care Unit, offsite in a large conference room workshop, and online via virtual platform. These sessions took place in 4 different cities in Canada and included 3 academic teaching hospitals. Participants of the in situ and virtual CSE completed pre- and post-simulation surveys which showed improved understanding of Code Silver protocols following participation. The CSE is a reproducible simulation alternative, designed to operationalize a Code Silver policy at a large healthcare institution in a sustainable way. This training model can be administered in multiple settings in-person (in situ or offsite), and virtually, making it versatile and easily accessible for participants. This exercise enables participants to mentally rehearse practical responses to an active shooter in their unique work environments and to discuss ethical and medical-legal implications of their responses during a facilitated debrief with fellow healthcare providers. Implementation of a CSE for training in hospitals may help staff to create a mental schema prior to an active shooter event, and thus indirectly improve the chances of survivability in the event of a real active shooter situation.


Authors: Julie J. Kim, Daniel Howes, Chantal Forristal, Andrew Willmore

Julie J. Kim - julie.kim@lhsc.on.ca

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