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Newton Medical to conduct emergency practice drill Thursday

COVINGTON — Newton Medical Center will be the site of a live-action emergency preparedness drill this week.

The Covington Police Department, SWAT team members, EMS, Newton Medical Volunteer Services and the Newton County Career Academy will conduct the routine drill at 9 a.m. Thursday in order to prepare for a situation where patients, visitors and staff are at risk of being confronted by a person with a weapon or of being involved in a violent crime/hostage situation.

“The most effective way for hospital staff to learn how to respond to an incident like this is to conduct simulated exercises. Newton Medical Center has recently developed a policy and procedures to deal with assaultive behavior and this planning will allow us to drill this policy for the first time with our community partners,” said Dick Szeliga, NMC Director of Engineering. “The intent of this drill and the others we perform on a continuing basis is to learn from each one and adapt as times change.”

The hospital staff will run through a scenario of where an active shooter, played by a Covington police officer, is located in the minor care treatment area.

NMC Marketing Director Anne Gantt said the community shouldn’t be alarmed when they see local police surrounding the hospital during the drill, and there should not be any concern for the safety of patients, hospital staff or visitors.

Since it is a drill, the hospital will not be on lockdown. Szeliga said staff will be assigned to all public entrances to inform the public that a drill is progress.

“Once the active shooter is subdued and apprehended, the police department will do a quick sweep of the facility to ensure the shooter was acting alone,” Szeliga said. “This again leads to the reality as they would do this during a real incident as well as further familiarize them with our facility.”

Newton Medical Center is a 97-bed medical facility serving Covington and surrounding areas. For more information go to www.newtonmedical.com or call 770-786-7053.