BILLINGS — A Billings Clinic nurse recounted Friday a shooting inside the hospital's emergency department that left one woman injured.
The shooting took place nearly two weeks ago. It was traumatic for doctors, nurses and patients who were there that evening, but Carter Klatt, a triage nurse at the clinic,m had a first-hand account of the ordeal.
"Obviously I was scared, I was terrified. That lasted for about three seconds, and my next thought was, all of the other patients in the waiting room and their safety and what we had to do to make sure that everyone else in the surrounding area was safe," Klatt said.
It was a traumatic event, but on Friday, board members for Billings School District 2 brought lunch and dinner for the emergency department teams as a show of support.
Klatt has been with Billings Clinic for almost one year. But Oct. 16 was his first day in triage, and it quickly became a day he’d never forget when he was approached in the ER by a 36-year-old Billings woman.
"It was actually a pretty civil conversation for a couple minutes as I began my triage assessment and through the questions, I asked and from what I found out as the conversation continued, I realized that there was a threat and obviously a weapon was brandished and then the situation escalated from there," Klatt said.
Klatt says the situation quickly became dangerous and he jumped into action while doing his best to stay calm.
"I went through, I guess in my mind, what I thought was the correct procedure. Alerting the security and the other staff members that we had a threat and that we needed to start and evacuation and safety procedure to make sure that everybody else was removed from potential harm," added Klatt.
Not long after, police arrived and evacuated the remaining staff. Police say the Billings woman shot herself in the ER and then ignored commands from officers, picking the handgun up yet again. That’s when she was shot by police. MTN was told that the woman was alive when paramedics began working on her.
"We came around the corner and saw what had happened and I guess our training and instincts jumped in and it was a switch from scared and terrified to what to do we have to do," Klatt added.
"There are steps that we can take to make things better in our community and one of them is to have folks come together and work together and we are both in the people business. We take care of the children of the community; the hospital takes care of all of us. And we need to recognize that for us to contribute in a more meaningful way in this environment, we need to be shoulder to shoulder," said Scott McCulloch, a school board member.
Klatt says the gesture "meant a lot to all" who were present that day.
"Just to feel the support of the community, because our job is to take care of the sick and the injured and to see a little bit of that come back to us and show their appreciation means a lot to us. It boosts morale and really makes us appreciative of the job we’re able to do and patient experience that we’re able to provide here at Billings Clinic," Klatt said.
Neighbors supporting neighbors and a community rallying around each other after a tragic event.
"I don’t want to see a day when the hospital and the school system has to work together because we have victims. I want us to work together to prevent victims," added McCulloch.