Metal detectors secure the safety of everyone entering Health First's four hospitals
In October 2016, Health First's safety team strategically adopted an aggressive security measure, designed to de-escalate security situations or threats before they have a chance to erupt, said Health First Director of Security, Robin Rice.
Metal detectors are becoming a safety model that hospitals are adopting across Florida, and Health First was one of the first, Rice said. The goal? To reduce and deter weapons from entering Health First's hospitals.
This crucial safety prevention method came after a gunman opened fire at a Brevard County hospital in July 2016, killing two people inside a third-floor patient room. While this tragic situation did not occur at a Health First hospital, Rice said hospital leaders acted quickly on a plan to protect the Integrated Delivery Network's (IDN) patients, their families and associates.
"The next day, our CEO called me into his office and asked me, 'What can we do to prevent that from happening from within the Health First Integrated Delivery Network?' " Rice said. "Our safety team recommended metal detectors."
Within 30 days of the tragic shooting, Health First's four hospitals - Health First's Cape Canaveral Hospital, Health First's Holmes Regional Medical Center, Health First's Palm Bay Hospital and Health First's Viera Hospital - were assigned with a metal detector and a security guard at every emergency department and main entrance. This level of security was also included at the Birth Suites at Holmes Regional.
"So if a person walks up to the door and sees a metal detector, if they have a weapon, most of them will turn and take it away," Rice said.
These devices serve as a reminder to make sure people think twice, and so far, they have been highly effective. Since 2016, Rice said more than 100,000 weapons have been collected at all four hospitals combined. However, he wants to make one thing clear.
"These are not the weapons that tried to enter the facility," Rice said. "It's the amount of weapons that were not picked up from our security staff before people would leave the hospital" without claiming them.
He says the number of weapons that visitors tried to enter the facility with soared well above 100,000 - and it is more than just knives and guns. Security personnel have confiscated Tasers, pepper spray, shanks, scissors and any piece of equipment that can be altered and used as a weapon.
When a visitor goes through a metal detector, and it has determined that they have some sort of weapon, that weapon is held with Security until they exit the facility. If a visitor forgets to pick up the weapon before leaving, it is kept for 90 days and then destroyed. Guns, however, are turned over to law enforcement.
Security personnel also have metal detector wands for further and detailed security screenings. This is another added element to make sure everything is checked.