RUMFORD — Rumford Hospital and area law enforcement agencies and emergency responders will stage an emergency preparedness drill on Wednesday, May 5.
Working in cooperation with Oxford County law enforcement and firefighters, the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency and the Central Maine Medical Center Security Department, Rumford Hospital will be the site of an “active shooter drill.”
Rumford Hospital Facilities Manager Douglas West said the hospital suggested the drill after Central Maine Healthcare Corporation, the hospital’s parent organization, introduced a new policy for dealing with potential hostage situations.
“We are doing this because Central Maine Healthcare introduced new code dealing with hostages and an active shooter entering a health care setting. We thought it wise to practice the exercise simply to make us more aware of how we would handle such a situation,” West said.
The drill is set to begin at 6 p.m. and will involve multiple responders, including a police tactical team. West said that to his knowledge this is the first time such a drill has been conducted at a hospital.
Rumford Hospital and area emergency responders are making a concerted effort to communicate to Rumford-Mexico area residents that the drill is taking place. “There will be a lot of commotion in the area of the hospital, so we are going to great lengths to inform everyone that it’s a drill,” West said.
Scott Parker, director of the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency, said the Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield police departments, Rumford and Mexico fire departments, the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department and Med-Care Ambulance Service are among the organizations participating in the exercise.
Parker said the drill will “have a lot of moving parts and present multiple other problems that will have to be solved simultaneously. These kinds of situations are easy to talk about but when it comes to executing the plan, it’s a little trickier. Everyone involved is in the game when it comes to solving problems.”
Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter stressed the importance of informing area residents and emergency responders that the drill was taking place.
“It’s imperative that we let the citizens and law enforcement patrols of the Rumford area know that there is a drill going on so they don’t think there’s an actual event,” he said.
“These drills are important. They give us all an opportunity to train, to work together. We train regularly with these types of responses, but this is something new and different. Rumford PD’s role is to provide an emergency tactical response to stop the threat, to prevent any further injury and to secure the scene. It’s a good opportunity to practice our tactical response,” he said.
Carter said the drill will last from 6 p.m. to about 8 p.m. Signage in the area of the hospital will be posted to inform travelers and neighborhood residents that the drill is taking place. Ten safety monitors will be assigned to locations near the site. The hospital will remain open, particularly for emergency patients, and safety monitors will assure that access to the hospital is maintained.