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WellSpan backs up Waynesboro PD to acquire training gear

August 19, 2020

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Waynesboro police officer Steve Sanders displays a weapon conversion kit that helps his department train through realistic scenarios such as an active-shooter situation.

Waynesboro police officer Steve Sanders displays a weapon conversion kit that helps his department train through realistic scenarios such as an active-shooter situation.

While WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital is committed to providing high-quality care, the safety of the community outside the campus is just as important.

When Waynesboro Police Chief James Sourbier IV asked WellSpan Health for financial assistance to help his officers have access to training technology to better protect the community, the answer was "yes."

"As a trusted partner in the community, WellSpan remains committed to the Waynesboro Police Department as they try to maintain a safe environment so the community can thrive," said Melissa Dubrow, vice president of operations and chief operations officer at WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital.

As part of that ongoing effort and longstanding tradition, WellSpan Health donated money to the Waynesboro Police Department in March for the purchase of training technology and safety equipment. In June, the police department received a portion of its Simunition package, designed to provide substantial hands-on experience with ammunition technology, weapon conversion kits and a line of protective equipment.

Jon Williams, director of safety, security and emergency management for WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital and WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital, knows the important value of training through realistic scenarios.

"While our caregivers focus on saving and improving the lives of our patients every day, it is the role of our security team to protect them at all costs," Williams said.

Waynesboro police and hospital security staff typically collaborate in emergency preparation and response drills throughout WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, normally scheduled active-shooter training exercises have been put on hold, according to Williams.

Outside of scheduled training exercises, WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital depends on police responsiveness around the clock when needed.

Alarms and crimes in progress in the facility and on campus require a law enforcement response. Additionally, Waynesboro police officers also assist with “unruly and disorderly” patients in the emergency department as well as special events and event planning, according to Sourbier.

"The Waynesboro Police Department is a valued partner in the highest level of protection we can provide our hospitals," Williams said.

Beyond response, WellSpan relies on Waynesboro police to identify potential trends in domestic violence and drug abuse so collaborative awareness and conversation can lead to stopping those crime waves.

"It takes many people at the table to combat these issues and we consider our relationship with WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital paramount to forward thinking and our everyday efforts in keeping Waynesboro safe," Sourbier said.

More than just paper targets

Sourbier says the biggest benefit of Simunition training is that it allows officers to develop strategies and different tactics as they make decisions during a variety of realistic scenarios including active-shooter situations at a school, hospital or banking institution.

"It is as close as you can get to controlled reality in day-to-day events," Sourbier said. "This gives us an opportunity to better our response to our community. SIMS training emphasizes critical judgement and decision-making skills under stressful conditions with the goal of reducing the potential for errors in judgement by an officer on the street."

Added Waynesboro police officer Steve Sanders, who also serves as a training instructor for the department, "It's going to add another level of realism for our officers and it adds a reality that can’t be simulated at a shooting range. You can only do so much with paper targets."

And while the simulated firearms discharge is a good portion of training, Sanders said that there are also exercises where weapons should be kept in the holster.

Sourbier said that his department will be offering this training to other regional law enforcement.

"It's beneficial to the entire community. It allows us to practice active homicide scenarios in a training setting," Sourbier said. "WellSpan Health was benevolent to recognize the need and help. This was well outside our ability to fund internally."