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Active Shooter Security in the Operating Room

by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on May 22, 2020 1:00:23 AM

Q: Our surgery staff is worried about an active shooter entering the operating rooms. We are looking at having a drill soon and the question came up about how to secure the operating room doors if they were in the middle of surgery and an active shooter was identified in the building. We need some kind of door security bar inside the operating room doors to prevent shooter access. We are fairly secure to the public but if the shooter were an employee, they would probably know codes to get into the department. What are your thoughts?

A: No, no, no - you cannot put a bar across the door to prevent an active shooter from entering the operating room. That is a direct violation of the 2012 Life Safety Code section 19.2.2.2.4 that says doors in the means of egress cannot be equipped with a lock or latch that requires the use of a tool or key from the egress side unless it meets one of the following:

  • Delayed egress locks (requires the use of electric-magnetic locks – see section 7.2.1.6.1)
  • Access-control locks (which are not locks at all on the egress side – see section 7.2.1.6.2)
  • Elevator lobby locks (this does not apply in your situation)
  • Clinical needs locks (this does not apply in your situation)
  • Specialized protective measure locks (this is a possibility, but requires the use of electric-magnetic locks, and the building needs to be 100% sprinklered, and the locked area needs to be fully smoke detected – see section 19.2.2.2.5.2)

Also, according to section 7.2.1.5.10.2, you are not permitted to have more than one releasing operation to operate the door (i.e. one latch, that doubles as a lock – this effectively eliminates the use of deadbolt locks that are separate from the latch-set hardware). So, placing a bar across the door to prevent an active shooter from entering the operating room is definitely a big NO-NO.

So, to answer your question: “How should we secure the operating room doors if they were in the middle of surgery and an active shooter was identified in the building?”, my reply would be to install locking hardware that is integral with the latch-set hardware, and when the lock is activated, the door unlocks and unlatches in the same motion. Do not allow a bar to be installed across the door. That is extremely dangerous (prevents quick egress from the room if there were a fire), and is very illegal.

Topics:Operating RoomEgress

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