Elkins, W.Va. — With the number of mass shootings in the United States since the beginning of the year increasing, Elkins Rehabilitation & Care Center (ERCC) is taking steps to be prepared in case the unthinkable occurs.
ERCC conducted a mass shooting drill at the facility today. The organization worked with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, the Elkins Police Department and Randolph County EMS to plan and stage the drill.
“We worked hand in hand with emergency responders to make sure this drill was as realistic and safe as it could possibly be,” said Tara Shaver, ERCC administrator. “We wanted to make sure we got this right.”
Shaver added that she was pleased with how the drill went.
“There are always some areas where you can make improvements,” she added. “But we are confident the experience gained through today’s exercise helped enhanced the future safety of both our residents and staff.”
Staff, residents and other stakeholders were informed about the drill prior to it being staged, Shaver said. Residents were also placed in their room before the drill began to ensure their complete safety.
The drill is part of an effort to sharpen emergency preparedness procedures. ERCC, along with every other nursing home in the nation, is required to conduct disaster drills. Considering recent mass shootings in the nation, officials at the facility opted to conduct the active shooter drill.
“We all know that shootings can occur anywhere,” Shaver said. “It is our goal to be as prepared as possible for all scenarios.”
There have been around 160 mass shootings in the United States in 2023. This number includes the shooting at a bank in Louisville on April 10 where five people were killed and eight others were wounded.
Mass shootings have occurred in large urban areas like Buffalo and in very remote towns such as Craig, Alaska where eight people were killed in 1982.
“Although rare, there have been mass shootings at nursing homes in other states,” said Shaver. “We believe readiness is particularly important in facilities that care for extremely vulnerable residents,” Shaver said.
For example, in 2009, eight people were killed during a mass shooting in a nursing home in Carthage, N.C. This remains the worst mass shooting in North Carolina’s history.
In 2017, four people were killed during a mass shooting at a nursing home in Kirkersville, Ohio.
“We pray that nothing like that ever happens here,” Shaver said. “But if it does, we want to make sure we’re prepared.”