BURNABY, B.C. â€” The union representing B.C. nurses says staff at a hospital in Grand Forks are traumatized after a man walked into an emergency room, pulled out a gun and shot himself Thursday evening.
The BC Nurses’ Union says the victim shot himself at the Boundary District Hospital and was airlifted to a Vancouver-area hospital.
RCMP says the victim is in stable condition and no one else was injured.
Union president Gayle Duteil said the man didn’t say anything before he shot himself.
“Nurses, doctors and all frontline staff acted quickly in ensuring the safety of other patients and themselves, and also attended to the victim,” she told a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday.
Patients were moved to a safe location while a physician and emergency room manager tended to the victim.
RCMP Cpl. Janelle Shoihet said victim services have been made available to family members of the victim, as well as hospital staff and witnesses.
“We recognize this was quite a traumatic event for those who witnessed it,” Shoihet said in a news release. “However, I can confirm there was no additional risk to the public.”
Duteil said there is not enough protection for nurses and other staff from violent incidents.
Although nurses are also receiving support from Interior Health’s crisis management team, she said they are left feeling distraught.
“At many of these small hospitals, there isn’t a security guard or any life of defence between the front door and the triage area,” she said in a statement. “Sometimes locking the doors after hours is the only option.”
She said this case is an example of the growing concerns around violence and weapons in emergency rooms across the province, to which smaller communities are not immune.
The union said it spoke to Interior Health on Friday morning and they will work together to address the problem including developing more effective policies for protecting staff.
The union is also calling on the provincial and federal governments to get involved and provide resources to address the issue of safety at hospitals.
“The government is going to have to step up. There’s no question,” she said.
Karen Bloemink of Interior Health said events like this, although tragic, are extremely rare.
“They could happen at any time and in any public location. Interior health would like to reassure the public that our emergency departments are safe, and our staff and physicians are ready and able to provide safe patient care for those who need it.”
She said the health authority will conduct an investigation.
The Canadian Press