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Warrensburg community steps up amid scare at hospital

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 19:19:35-04

WARRENSBURG, Mo. — Even though police sirens surrounded Western Missouri Medical Center forcing hospital staff to evacuate the Warrensburg, Missouri, building — there was no chaos.

“It was busy, but it was really organized and under control,” explained Amy Jenkins, director of strategic communications for WILS, an independent living service.

While law enforcement searched the hospital on reports of a man with a gun inside, staff began bringing patients in wheelchairs out of the hospital.

Emergency managers called on WILS because it has a specialty in accessible transportation.

Managers wanted WILS to be ready to take wheelchair-bound patients to other hospitals if necessary.

“We were thankful we were called on to serve, glad we could assist,” Jenkins said.

One WILS office employee, who is not normally a driver but has her commercial drivers license, jumped into a van to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said there never was a man in the hospital with a gun, so WILS did not have to transport any patients.

“The support has been amazing,” Roberta Newsome, whose niece was working in the hospital at the time, said.

Newsome and her other niece, Michaella Hamlin, waited for updates from a parking lot across the street.

They said Hy-Vee provided water for everyone.

After they got word their loved one was safe and a suspect was in custody away from the hospital, Newsome and Hamlin were able to fully appreciate the community support.

“It’s crazy how everybody came. All the surrounding counties, it’s really wonderful,” Newsome said.

Back at WILS, Jenkins said this day left her feeling reassured the community can handle any situation.

“I think this event made us feel really confident. It was amazing about all the parts and the pieces that were thought of beforehand,” she said.

WILS is considering having more office staff members train for their CDL, so they can be better prepared to respond to future events.

Three OATS Transit managers, who don’t regularly drive the company’s buses but have their commercial licenses, also hopped behind the wheel and drove 30 miles from Sedalia, Missouri, to assist with any potential patient transportation needs.