Blog Post #1494 – Call for Better Security at Hospitals in British Columbia

Excerpt from the OH&S safety magazine (Jan. 2017)

The B.C. Nurses’ Union (PCNU) is demanding better policies to protect nurses and hospital employees after a man attempted suicide with a firearm in an emergency room.

The shooting occurred at Boundary District Hospital in Grand Forks on the evening of January 12, 2017, when the man entered the back of the hospital through the ambulance bay, pulled out a gun and shot himself in the emergency room, according to a BCNU statement. A physician and a manager attended the victim while others moved patients to a different location in the facility. The man was airlifted to a hospital near Vancouver.

The day after the incident, the BCNU president Gayle Duteil, commended the hospital staff for their quick and professional response to the shooting, but also stressed that it had traumatized them. “Staff were caught off-guard,” Duteil says in a statement. “They are extremely distraught as a result.”

Interior Health Authority (IH), the organization that runs the hospital, sent its crisis-management team to provide support to the employees. The morning after the shooting, BCNU representatives spoke with IH senior leaders about how to improve security for frontline staff of the latter’s facilities.

“There is nothing protecting our members and other frontline staff from this sort of violence,” Duteil notes. “I fear that the problem is only going to get worse.”

The Boundary incident was “the tip of the iceberg,” Duteil adds. “At many of these small hospitals, there isn’t a security guard or any line of defence between the front door and the triage area,” she explains. “Sometimes, locking the doors after hours is the only option.”

The union call on the provincial health ministry to get involved in developing more effective policies to protect workers.”

My opinion

If we were in the United States, there would be a level of security already available since almost everyone owns, and sometimes carries, a loaded weapon.

I agree with Gayle Duteil’s assessment of the incident. The “Tip of the iceberg” is not too far off.

If the Ministry of Health can recognize this to be the beginning of a unsafe trend at local hospitals, then budgetary provisions for enhanced security would be on the table, and hopefully, already implemented since this is the beginning of 2024.

The cost of safety, especially at healthcare facilities, should already be factored in as part of the fiscal responsibility.

If it not available at your local facility, contact your local provincial member and make them aware of your concerns.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.




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