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Mercy Hospital Southwest admits to internal failures during shooter scare

FILE - Police swarm Mercy Hospital Southwest in Bakersfield, Calif., amid reports of a shooter on campus, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018. Police said they found no evidence of a shooting after searching the hospital. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Police concluded their investigation Monday into what prompted the Aug. 1 active-shooter false alarm at a southwest Bakersfield hospital, unable to determine how the call originated because the hospital's phone system is too antiquated.

Jen Culbertson, chief of nursing at Mercy Hospital, said that there were a number of things the hospital could have done better during the lockdown, noting that their hospital phones are in the process of being replaced with ones that can pinpoint the exact location of calls made from hospital phones.

"The night of the incident, we were unable to track to see exactly where that phone call came from," she said. "If we were able to do that, we probably could have pulled video footage, because we have cameras all throughout the facility."

Also a problem are the hospital's out-of-date maps and faulty master key that delayed first responders in their three-hour search of the hospital.

"The house key that opens up all the doors did not necessarily open up all the doors," Culbertson said "There were several rooms that they couldn't get into."

Police concluded their search near midnight as more than 100 first responders checked all 82 beds in the two-story hospital, and helicopters combed the surrounding area.

No injuries or evidence of a shooter was ever found, according to police.

Culbertson noted that some nurses breached protocol and went into locked areas of the hospital to safeguard patients.

"They can't go out and be the rescuer," Culbertson cautioned, due to hospital safety procedures.

Dignity Health, the parent company for Mercy Hospital, is in the process of upgrading all phones. By the end of the year, Mercy will have the technological capabilities to pinpoint the exact location of all calls made inside the hospital.

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