Yesterday I streamed the news of the shooting at the Navy Yard for seven hours straight. I would look up at my computer screen each time Police Chief Cathy Lanier took to the microphone to provide us with more information on the shooter. The first report indicated there could possibly be as many as three shooters;, one shot and killed, the other two ‘at large”. I was concerned.
Our facility sits just 40 miles south of the Nation’s Capitol. Over the years, our area has seen sheer violence, acts of terrorism and senseless shootings. October 2002 was a terrifying time for the entire area due to the rampage of the DC Beltway Snipers, Malvo and Muhammad. They shot and attempted to kill anyone, at any time, without a moment’s notice. Every day as I drove to work, I felt like I was living in a different country. Tarps covered gas pumps, providing cover for those needing fuel. Vans would block the pumps from the roadway providing a shield to those standing outside. People would bolt from their cars, running into the store, hoping to dodge any gunfire that may erupt. Down the street from our facility, a woman was shot as she went into a craft store. A man mowing his lawn, was shot and killed. I remember a home office team that was scheduled to come to our facility for a series of meetings, canceled. They politely told me “It’s just too dangerous.”
Dangerous. Hmm. I have come to realize that every day as, we each leave our homes and go off to work is a dangerous day. It does not matter what line of work any of us are in, danger lurks somewhere between our front door and our destination. As I sit right now in my office, an advisory has been issued for a mental patient who has escaped from a psych hospital located five miles from our facility. Back in 2009 in the small town of Carthage, North Carolina, a shooter walked into a nursing home and opened fire, killing eight people. It was determined that he was seeking to kill his wife, who worked as a nursing assistant in the building.
Domestic violence issues are everywhere, all with the potential for community revenge- shooting to kill anyone with no real motive against the community, but victims never the less. Their target is the person they “love”. The rest of us are bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When we look at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, dementia care facilities and group homes we notice that 95 percent of the workers are female. Depending on which website one refers to, the numbers are staggering at how much of an epidemic this has become. One in three women are victims. One in three. So, on my staff,if these numbers ring true, 15 women are in harms way at any given moment. Danger. Danger lurking, waiting patiently for the right time to pounce.
My job is to insure that every person in the building is safe at all times. We have fire drills. Evacuation drills. Tornado drills. Hurricane drills. Missing person drills. Medical emergency drills. We are ready for any potential disaster. Are we? Are any of us ready? Let me get this straight. The Navy Yard is one of the most secure places in the world. Nursing homes are “open door friendly”. Visitors come and go all day long in health care facilities, I don’t know half the people that pass by my doorway as the enter the facility. The Navy Yard checks ID’s at the main gate. Security checkpoints are every where on base. Hmmm.
Here is my problem. No weapons allowed policies. The policy simply reads : No weapons of any type are allowed.” I call that the “sitting duck policy” in health care facilities. Policy writers expect me to sit at the front door of my facility with mental health patients on the loose, snipers shooting for fun, domestic violence stalkers waiting for their prey and all the other loonies out there to come right on in and shoot the place up. Not happening. The residents in my facility are safe. Do you know why? I carry a 38 Special, fully loaded, complete with a concealed carry permit, at all times. As I sit here writing, it sits safely tucked away within five inches of my shooting hand. I do not care to debate the Second Amendment with anyone. Here is what I know: The residents in my care are protected from what I can protect them from. The staff and crew are as safe as my aim is. The nurses who carefully guard the narcotics, are guarded by my time spent on the firing range. I am ready for danger. I am ready as I can be, and I do not care about violation of the weapons policy. I care about the people who can not defend themselves, who are in my care and under my watch. The residents in my facility; the staff and crew employed here and all visitors are my responsibility and I find that to be “just too dangerous” to not be ready to protect them.
If your mother or father lived in my facility, what would you expect me to do when an armed, drug crazed psycho busted in the door demanding controlled substances? What would you want me to do if a domestic violence stalker came in the front door, armed with an assault rifle? Hide under my desk and hope for the best? Think again.