It happened at the Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Illinois on Saturday, May 13, 2017, when Kane County jail inmate Tywon Salters, 21, stole a firearm from a correctional officer guarding him. He then took two nurses hostage and barricaded himself in a room near the emergency room.
Salters has been in the custody of Kane County since April 11, when Elgin police arrested him for possession of a stolen vehicle. It’s not known what he was being treated for at the hospital or how he was able to obtain the officer’s weapons despite restraints being present in the hospital room.
When Salters took his hostages, other parts of the hospital were evacuated for patient safety. Ambulances moved those unable to leave on their own to other health care facilities. Hospital spokeswoman Kimberly Waterman said, “We do a lot of training (for situations like this). We work closely with our partners in law enforcement.”
The hospital was on lockdown, but Delnor staff and ambulances were available for those needing medical care, and people with non-emergency problems were asked to go to other facilities. Lockdown ended at around 6pm, and the emergency department was open for patients.
The incident began on the third floor, where Salters stole the 9mm handgun and took a nurse hostage. He then holed up in a room near the emergency department. Negotiators attempted to persuade Salters to surrender, but eventually, members of the SWAT team were called to the scene.
The suspect shot one SWAT officer, but the bullet lodged in the officer’s bulletproof vest; he was treated and released. The nurse taken hostage was not injured, but several others suffered minor injuries in this incident. State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said they were all treated and released.
An officer from the North Aurora Police Department shot and killed Salters around 4 that afternoon. The Illinois State Police are currently investigating the incident, and McMahon says, “It [the entire process] will be looked at in time.”
All hospitals in the United States have policies and procedures for numerous situations, from weather to hazardous materials spills to mass casualty events like plane crashes, and this includes training for hostage situations. Risk Manager Eileen Kradel, RN, JD, of St. Edward Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, wrote such a scenario in 1997.
The guns fired blanks, and the blood was fake, but Kradel says the scenario left participants shaken, fulfilling the purpose of the drill. Kradel points out health care facilities are always vulnerable to violence from patients, including police prisoners, and says it’s never happened at St. Edward. But, “we learned a lot about what we should do,” she says.
The Fort Smith Police Department assisted the hospital in the drill, which becomes a training exercise for their people as well. The drill was held in the facility’s cancer treatment center during hours the center was closed. No hospital services were disrupted by the exercise.
Drills such as the one at St. Edward are extremely important to ensure staff readiness in the event of a hostage situation. Delnor hospital staff performed admirably under fire, and thanks goes to the North Aurora Police Department and SWAT team for their assistance.