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Billings Clinic staff reacts quickly, keeps patients safe during gun threat

Billings Clinic emergency department Sunday evening
Posted at 8:33 AM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 10:33:25-04

BILLINGS — When in a situation that requires you to go to the emergency room, the last thing on many people's minds is a safety threat.

But for those in Billings Clinic's emergency department Sunday evening, that threat became real.

Just after 5 p.m., Billings Police Department became flooded with calls of an individual with a loaded gun inside the emergency department.

Brittany Miller was in the emergency department's waiting room with her mom while her sister was being triaged in another room.

“I noticed the security guards swarming a room, and then I noticed the lady at the desk was kind of pacing back and forth, made a phone call," says Miller. "Then she asked a security guard if he could handle this because there was someone with a loaded gun in there.”

Miller explains that Billings Clinic staff jumped into action and were able to get everyone away from the threat in a quick, organized fashion.

According to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick, officers arrived on the scene within minutes. The 36-year-old Billings woman had already shot herself in the torso when officers arrived and picked up the gun when approached.

Officers ordered her to drop her weapon, but she ignored them. Officer Blaine Lane, who has served two years with the Billings Police Department, fired a single round, striking the individual.

Officers were then able to secure the weapon and suspect, and she was treated for her wounds.

"We started hearing the yelling, the cops yelling, the screaming, and the two shots that were fired. It was all pretty quick," Miller recalls.

Miller explains that hospital staff made sure everyone was cared for and reassured that they were in a safe spot.

But Miller isn't the only one applauding staff for their response.

Jamiee Belsky, Billings Clinic emergency physician and medical director of the emergency department, also commends both the staff and Billings police for their efforts.

"Staff had an immediate threat they had to deal with and then turn around and return immediately to patient care," Belsky says. "It’s not something we ever like to happen in our emergency department, but I think the reason we wanted to comment on this today is to talk about how amazing the care was."

Part of the reason the staff was able to respond so quickly was continued safety training and drills, along with new security measures, Belsky explains.

"We all wear security badges, so if anytime you feel unsafe, you press the button and it sends out an immediate page," Belsky says. "So security comes out running to help you."

These new badges were put into use Sunday evening and allowed staff to work together to assess the threat.

“Our staff went above and beyond any expectation I could ever have. They went above their training. They were able to see an intense situation, defuse it, and protect themselves, and protect other staff members," Belsky says. "Then to turn around and take care of very sick patients was just beyond what you would expect anyone to do."

Both the Billings Police Department and Billings Clinic staff worked to assess the threat and managed to keep all witnesses, staff, and officers safe.

No charges have been filed at this time, according to Billings police. The motive of the individual has not been released.