Spotlight on Noah Sullivan
Noah Sullivan’s life ambition came into focus on Sept. 11, 2001, during his freshman year at Granbury High School as he watched the 9/11 terrorist attacks unfold on television.
“I felt a sense of duty,” Noah said. So after graduating he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, deployed overseas, and learned lessons that now inform his role as the Safety and Security Training and Exercise Coordinator at Cook Children's. Noah, 36, draws from his military background to enrich the classroom instruction and active-shooter scenarios he provides to our employees.
“I work as hard as I possibly can to ensure that if people ever are exposed to violence, they have something to fall back on,” he said. “That's why every time I teach a class, I put my heart into it.”
Stay alert to potential risk. Protect and defend. Prepare for the next threat.
An infantry rifleman on patrol in Iraq in 2007, Noah dealt with the aftermath of roadside bombings. The damage was obvious; the perpetrators, however, were often elusive in the crowded plazas and passing vehicles.
“That is where the idea of the enemy, so to speak, was born in my understanding,” he said. “The potential for violence was everywhere. It was very unnerving operating in an environment with so many unknown factors.”
His tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008 was an even more dangerous situation, where the Taliban laid land mines and shot at Noah’s unit from hidden positions, often at close range. The threat was real but hidden. “So much of it ties in to the active-shooter curriculum that we teach here, thinking critically about what our best options are in relation to where the violence is,” he said. “I find myself drawing from my experiences overseas constantly.”
After his service ended Noah began working at Cook Children’s in 2011 as an armed security officer on the night and evening shifts. During those eight years as a security guard, he was humbled by the personal nature of the calls he took. He describes the challenge this way: “It felt like you're navigating something new in every interaction.”
Now as our security trainer, Noah offers three in-person courses for employees (register through ULearn on CookNet). The courses emphasize strategies to stay alert to surroundings, defuse aggressive behavior before it escalates, and report suspicious activity. The full Active Criminal Event: Response presentation is available on ULearn and can be accessed at any time. Cook Children’s has also posted a video hitting the highlights of Noah’s message.
Demand for Noah’s expertise grew this summer following the Uvalde school shooting and the shooting at a medical building in Tulsa, where a gunman killed two doctors, a receptionist and a patient’s husband. Sign-ups for the safety courses increased, along with requests for department-wide training.
The information that Noah presents helps our employees to better understand the demographics of previous attacks at medical facilities. He wants everyone at Cook Children’s to be prepared and aware of their best options – whether to hide, or whether to run etc. – in case of an active shooter at one of our buildings. “Natural instinct in most cases is to freeze. We have to train through that.”
At the request of department leadership, he will go to any location in the system to conduct safety huddles with staff to talk about locking doors, escape routes and areas for refuge in their specific area. He also stages more elaborate drills, acting out the shooter’s part using a megaphone to represent gunshots.
One of Noah’s favorite aspects of the job is the tactical element of training the medical center’s 24/7 team of security officers in crisis prevention, intervention and appropriate use of force. He also enjoys wearing a padded suit that the participants in self-defense classes can wallop when he plays the bad guy role.
More facts about Noah:
- He lives in Fort Worth with his wife Elyse and their 3-year-old daughter Naomi
- Asked about his dominant personality traits, Noah responds with “mission-oriented,” “busy” and “ignited to the core” by the prospect of anyone harming others.
- He spent several months in a Marine leadership course that helped shape his public speaking skills. “Still, it can be intimidating speaking to an audience of health care professionals. I just have to remind myself that it isn’t about me, it is about the training.” But he strives for sincerity and enthusiasm in his presentations, and he continually hones the educational material.
Noah expressed gratitude to Cook Children’s leadership for their foresight to create and support his unique role.
“It offers me the flexibility to conduct a variety of different exercises and the creative freedom to adapt the training so that is immersive and effective.”