Adventist Health hosts ‘Coping with Chaos’ symposium


At two months from the anniversary of the Las Vegas massacre and in the light of two recent close calls at home, Adventist Health held a symposium today called: “Coping with Chaos.”

The meeting focused on the healthcare perspectives and  lessons learned in the Las Vegas shooting and the incident at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital last December.

Just two weeks ago, Mercy Hospital Southwest was placed under a code black, causing fear and uncertainty throughout our community.

Hours later, police determined reports of an active shooter at the hospital were false. 

“We had some things that went very well, the night of our active shooter which ended up being a hoax, thank goodness, but we were also able to take away some learnings,” said Jennifer Culbertson, chief nursing executive officer at Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield.

Those involved in these type of situations shared their takeaways from the moments of crisis at the symposium.

“One of the things we learned is that if there is an active shooter, staff really needs to hunker down and they need to stay in their area,” said Culbertson. “They can’t go out and be the rescuer, they need to stay at their location.”

Culbertson says, for healthcare workers, this isn’t easy.

“Nurses are saviors, we are going to run and save people,” said Culbertson. 

Eight months ago, reports of an active shooter at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital turned out to be no false alarm. A man shot out a glass door at the hospital. Thankfully, no one was wounded and the man was detained. 

“We really are all family,” said Sharlet Briggs, president and CEO of Adventist Health Bakersfield. “And, as family, we need to come together as we look at these emergencies that happened at other places and look to see what learnings we can do from them.”

A family that has no borders.

“It’s not one agency or one department, it’s really everyone coming together to make it work and manage crisis,” said Mason Vanhouweling, chief executive officer of University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Vanhouweling treated most of the patients from the route 91 shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead, including four Kern County residents.

“It’s very real,” said Vanhouweling. “The days of just training for earthquakes and hurricanes and floods are over.”

Vanhouweling added that being able to have instant connectivity and communication with local law enforcement and emergency operation centers is extremely important in situations like this.  

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