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Heartland Security Officers Now Armed

Security guards at Heartland Hospital will now carry guns. It's all an effort to make patient safety the top priority.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A handgun is something many may think comes standard on a the belt of security guard, but at Heartland Regional Medical Center the guards never carried guns until now.

"We need to make sure we're proactive to be able to protect our patients, our families and our caregivers that come within our doors," said Derek Conz, Director of Security at Heartland Hospital.

The change comes after talks from the hospital's board of directors.

Last August, they decided to tweak security protocols and allow guards to have guns.

"We went to making very comprehensive plans to put in place, safe guards to move forward with that protocol," he said.

"For the community to know that they'll be able to come here and feel safe and comfortable," said Thomas Randall, security officer at Heartland Hospital.

Randall is one of more than a dozen officers who now has a gun.

He knew how to handle one, prior to the changes, but still underwent five months of training with the others.

"We did some tactical movement, gives us a little bit more of an advantage moving around corridors, or areas where people may be to do it safely," said Randall.

"From safe responsible handgun handling, to more advanced tactical movement," said Conz.

Carrying guns gives officers the chance to protect the hospital on a new level.

"This gives them a good piece of mind that, God-forbid if we do have an incident here, we will be able to effectively and immediately handle that possible threat," said said Conz.

They used tasers for the past two years, which they said would have sufficed if they needed it.

However, a gun gives them and people at the hospital an extra layer of protection.

"We don't want to have to use our firearm, but if we need to, at least we have the ability to do that," said Randall.

The officers will receive training twice a year for re-certification.

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