Hospital hit by ransomware: First-responders diverted away from county


GREENFIELD — The attack on Hancock Health’s servers and the subsequent shutdown of its computer systems meant first-responders were asked to take some patients to medical facilities outside of Hancock County.

Area fire department and EMS personnel were told Friday morning that the hospital in Greenfield would not be accepting patients as usual. Ambulances were instead sent to hospitals in Indianapolis and other surrounding areas.

An administrator with Hancock Health called the county’s emergency management center about 6:30 a.m. Friday to tell dispatchers anyone needing medical attention would need to be taken outside of the county, officials said.

Of the 11 EMS calls received between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, six patients who typically would have gone to Hancock Regional were transported to another hospital.

One person who needed medical attention during the same time frame was taken to Hancock Regional Hospital, according to John Jokantas, the director of the county’s 911 dispatch center.

Hospitals can choose to divert patients for any number of reasons, Greenfield Fire Chief James Roberts said, and they don’t necessarily have to tell fire departments why they’ve chosen to send ambulances elsewhere.

Sometimes it’s because all their hospitals beds are full, they’ve reached their capacity and can’t bring anyone else inside, Roberts said. Other times, it’s because of a more concerning issue, he said.

And fire departments plan for such events, Roberts said. Medics know to be mindful of the longer drive times, and neighboring fire departments are told they might be called upon to help fill in any gaps in care those longer drives might create.

For example, Greenfield medics took some patients to Major Hospital in Shelbyville — a hour-long round-trip. If Greenfield’s paramedics and EMTs were still en route from Shelbyville when another medical call came in, Buck Creek or Sugar Creek fire departments would be called upon to handle the run, Roberts said.

But aside from the longer drives — made a bit more cumbersome by snow storms throughout the day Friday — patients shouldn’t have noticed any difference Friday, Roberts said. Help still got to their doors quickly and proper medical care was provided to anyone in need, he said.

“Anything they can do in the ER, we can do in the back of an ambulance,” he said.