AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police said there wasn’t an active shooter incident, and no shots were fired near Ascension Seton Northwest Hospital Friday afternoon.
Multiple emergency personnel units, including Austin-Travis County EMS, APD and Austin Fire, responded to a reported “critical incident” around 12:30 p.m., ATCEMS wrote on Twitter. The police department said the initial call was a “shots fired” call.
In a 3:57 p.m. post on social media, APD said the scene was safe, and there is no criminal investigation. APD said someone may have heard a noise in the emergency room that sounded like a gunshot, but wasn’t.
APD said it responded to a shots fired call at 11113 Research Blvd. service road northbound, which is the hospital’s address, around 1 p.m. The hospital was on lockdown for several hours.
In a press briefing Friday afternoon, each agency credited training and preparedness for what they said was a smooth response to the situation. ATCEMS said the outcome of no injuries or deaths was the best-case scenario. Police said they responded as though it was an active shooter situation, to be precautionary.
“It’s something that we have been actively training on for over a year, very intensely for the past nine months,” Assistant Chief Andre De La Reza, with the Austin Fire Department, said.
Ascension Seton Northwest provided a statement to ATCEMS.
At Ascension Seton Northwest, staff members and a visitor heard a sound they thought might be gunshots around noon today. In an abundance of caution, the hospital was immediately locked down and a code silver was issued. Ascension statement continued: APD and hospital security checked all floors and found no evidence of a shooter or of any shots fired. The safety of our staff, patients and their families are our top priority.Statement from Ascension Seton via ATCEMS
One of the employees inside the hospital during the event talked to KXAN on the phone while rooms were being searched. She said aside from officers clearing the building, it was quiet and staff were remaining hidden or behind closed doors until police could get to them.
“They came into the room with guns and flashlights asking if anyone was in here. He told me to open…to leave my doors open,” she said.
Investigating violence at hospitals
Last week, a KXAN investigation found health care workers in Central Texas and across the nation are having to adapt to growing threats of violence. In June, a hospital in downtown Austin was placed on lockdown after drive-by shooting suspects ran inside. In July, a gunshot was fired at a skybridge connecting that same hospital to a parking garage. No one in the hospital was hurt in either case.
A bill is currently making its way through Congress called the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act.