ThedaCare, Affinity Health System Provide Employees with Active Shooter Training

Northeast Wisconsin not Immune to Potential of Workplace Shooting

Two regional health care systems are training their personnel on what to do if an active shooter enters their workplace. ThedaCare and Ministry Health Care, which includes Affinity Health System, began training their managers and other leadership in the spring, and rolled out the educational program to other employees. The two health systems employ more than 10,000 people in Northeast Wisconsin.

“A local law enforcement trainer reports that an active shooter targets a location in the USA once every seven days,” said Scott Decker, ThedaCare vice president of quality. “We live in a caring, safe community, but we must be prepared for the worst. We drill for tornados. Our children drill at schools for tornados and active shooters. We need to be aware of what to do too. Health care facilities are not immune to this violence, and neither is the Fox Valley.  ”

Employees are taught the three different actions to take in an active shooter situation: run, hide, or fight. They discuss how to make decisions under duress, while providing direction to patients and peers in their immediate vicinity. They are encouraged to evaluate their workspace to see where they could hide or what could be used as a weapon (such as a stapler or a coffee maker).

“Emergency preparedness is multi-faceted, and active shooter training has become more important than ever,” said Deb Cross, director of Emergency Management and NurseDirect at Affinity Health System. “None of us want to believe that an active shooter situation could occur in our community, but this training is worthwhile. When staff members receive training for a disaster, you hope it will never happen, but you know that the staff is better prepared because of the training.”

Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson praises the two healthcare systems for training employees. “The difference between lives saved and lives lost in an emergency, often, is preparedness,” Chief Wilkinson said. “Those who have mentally and physically rehearsed a response are much more likely to survive. That's true for any threat: tornado, fire, flood, or active shooter.”

Chief Wilkinson, along with New London Deputy Lt. Jay Zempel participated in a video that can be shared with employees, emphasizing the importance of this training. The video can be viewed at:

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of seven hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. Community Health Network, which includes Community Memorial Hospital in Berlin, and Wild Rose Memorial Hospital are in the process of affiliating with ThedaCare. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.