Case Study

Safety drill protects infants

In the past 30 years there have been 132 infant abductions from health care facilities (none in Massachusetts), according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. To protect infants from abduction, Hallmark Health System (HHS) conducts annual emergency drills through the AlliedBarton Security Service at HHS. “We hold the surprise drills in maternity and elsewhere to test our procedures and reinforce awareness among the staff of the need to be vigilant,” said Security Director Chris Nowak.

The most recent “Code Pink” drill in maternity was a fictional scenario developed by Nowak and a nurse educator. The plot involved an estranged father (played by one of the HHS security staff) trying to steal his newborn baby (played by an infant CPR manikin) from the mother while they were still in the hospital. Once the “Code Pink” is called and the drill is “live,” every unit in the hospital activates its response plan. “Each unit has specific responsibilities,”said Nowak, “such as monitoring stairwells, hallways, elevators and exits near the unit. We have camera systems to help, but we really need staff to be observant – things such as distinguishing features of the abductor or the direction of travel should there be a getaway car,” he added.

Each drill is followed through to its conclusion and a debriefing held afterward to assess performance and pinpoint any vulnerabilities. “We learn something every time,” said Nowak. “From this one, it’s to expect the unexpected. We most often think of a stranger abducting a baby from a hospital, rather than a parent. A threat can come from anyone at any time, so we can’t let our guard down.”


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