Nurses and front-line staff who work at Boundary hospital in Grand Forks are traumatized after a man walked in on Thursday evening, pulled out a gun and shot himself, the BC Nurses Union says.
The 43-year-old local man was airlifted to a Vancouver-area hospital and is now in stable condition, according to police sources.
“This man entered the hospital through the ambulance bay, which is in the back of the hospital, and didn’t say anything before he shot himself,” BCNU president Gayle Duteil said in a prepared statement. “There wasn’t a lot of forewarning and staff were caught off-guard. Of course they are extremely distraught as a result.”
Duteil says while nurses and staff acted quickly and professionally during the frightening incident, it highlights the growing concern of violence and weapons in emergency rooms around the province.
“Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is nothing protecting our members and other front-line staff from this sort of violence. I fear that the problem is only going to get worse.”
Patients were moved from the emergency room to a safer location in the hospital while an ER physician and manager tended to the victim, Duteil said Interior Health’s crisis management team is presently assisting the nurses.
BCNU spoke to senior leadership at Interior Health this morning. They will be discussing partnering together to address the problem, such as developing more effective policies that better protect front-line hospital staff, Duteil said.
Duteil said this incident might be something she’d expect to see at hospitals in larger centres, and that it highlights the fact that smaller communities aren’t immune to the growing number of violent incidents.
“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 says. “Sometimes locking the doors after hours is the only option.”
The incident happened just before 6 p.m.
“Our police officers responded very quickly,” RCMP Cpl. Janelle Shoihet said in a news release. “We recognize this was quite a traumatic event for those who witnessed it. However, I can confirm there was no additional risk to public.”
Police determined that no one else had suffered any physical injuries. The gun was seized.
Witnesses who have not yet spoken to police are asked to contact the Grand Forks RCMP at 250-442-8288.
RCMP victim services is providing support to members of the family, and will be offering the same to hospital staff members, and witnesses.