Ascension St. John Security Trains on De-Escalating Situations with Virtual Reality Simulator

Ascension St John in Tulsa installed a new virtual reality simulator for its security officers to train for active shooter situations.

Wednesday, January 31st 2024, 5:26 pm



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From schools to malls, movie theaters, and grocery stores, active shooter training has become common in public places, with hospitals being no exception.

Ascension St John in Tulsa installed a new virtual reality simulator for its security officers to train on. This is the first time the hospital has had a dedicated training system. The goal of the simulator is to help the security officers improve their response in high-stress situations.

Active shooter drills are never easy to go through, but Karen Navis knows they are necessary for her job at Ascension St John Hospital.

"They are frightening. That's a situation that I don't ever want to be in," she said.

While Navis' main focus at work is helping her patients, she has to worry about her own safety too.

"I think about the safety and security of our patients and our staff. That's probably first and foremost, safety," said Navis.

That's why the hospital has a new virtual simulator. It'll train officers to deal with tense situations before they get worse.

"Navy SEALs said in conflict, 'It's not that you rise to the occasion, but you fall to the level of your training.' So, we want our officers to be prepared for whatever comes along," said Ascension Oklahoma Director of Security Darrel Long.

Ascension St John said it's the first private hospital in the nation to install a training simulator like this. "This system has almost 500 different scenarios and most of them have de-escalation skills built into it. So, our officers will learn how to speak to people to de-escalate situations to keep them from getting out of control," Long said.

Long said they finalized the grant submission for the simulator the same day four people were killed in the shooting at St. Francis Hospital just a few miles away. "We always have concerns, that's why we want to be prepared for anything that comes our way.," said Long.

The security team will train on the simulator monthly. Ascension St. John has plans to work with other local hospitals to give them the chance to use the simulator as well.

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