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Heartland Security Soon to Have Firearms

Following a lead by Missouri Western State University and other area hospitals, security at Heartland Health will be armed.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  Thomas Randall is out on patrol.

"It's just the same as being in a little city," Randall said.

Randall's beat is the campus of Heartland Regional Medical Center. On the job at Heartland, Randall sees many of the same problems as he would see out on the streets.

"You can have anything from domestics to ex parte orders," he said.

But unlike Randall's time in the neighborhoods of Baghdad as part of the military or during his time as a police officer, Randall has done his job at Heartland unarmed.

However, all that's about to change. Security at Heartland will be getting guns.

"Given the time and place in which we live, it was a necessary decision," said Tama Wagner, Chief Branding Officer at Heartland.

The additional firearms training will cost around $70,000 for Heartland's security team of 14. Most who patrol Heartland's 1 million square feet of building space on 88 acres of land, have previous law enforcement backgrounds.

"You have these experienced people. We're giving them the tools they need to just better do their job," Wagner said.

They'll be able to do their jobs quicker than relying on police to come to the scene. The average police response time to Heartland is around 10 minutes.

"There have been several instances where I've had to remove knives from belongings of people," said Randall. "There's been times we've had to ask others to put their firearm in their vehicle."

For the past two years, security has had taser guns. To this point, they've never had to use them. They hope they'll never have to use their guns either.

"If nothing else, it will make somebody think twice," Randall said. "And if they still cause an issue of some sort where somebody can be physically harmed or even killed, we'll have the ability to respond to that."

"The most compelling argument to me was it's a greater risk not to do this than a risk to do it," said Wagner.

The decision by Heartland's board to arm their security guards with guns was not unanimous. About half of Kansas City hospitals have firearms for security.
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