Active Shooter Preparedness for Employees & Managers - What you Need to Know
In the U.S., during 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) designated 27 shootings as active shooter incidents. The FBI defines an active shooter as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area (usually with a firearm). While the number 27 might seem significant, it’s important to realize other numbers presented by a USA Today report delving into the FBI statistic a little more. Of those 27 incidents, 85 people were killed and 128 people injured.
Whether one is just talking about active shooter scenarios or gun violence in general (a bigger number), solutions to these problems are from a large pool, ranging from outlawing firearms to requiring everyone own a firearm. Statistics can often be found in support of both. Safety is the common denominator that everyone agrees on, but most disagree on the best way to obtain it. Non-lethal weapons, the likes of which are currently found only in science fiction (think force fields and stun rays), might present themselves as an answer that spans the political aisle, delivering personal protection without the cost of life, but the best we have so far is a zapper. That is despite the technological capability to control robots on the surface of Mars. This means a solution is not likely soon. What should one do in the meantime, if there is trouble in the workplace with a firearm?
An Active Shooter Plan
Every place of employment should have an active shooter plan. It doesn’t matter if the place of employment is a hospital, a corporate building, a school, a store, or even a government-owned facility. Active shooter situations are going to continue. It only makes sense to have a plan. Employers should be responsible for implementing how their associates are going to go about it.
Active shooter plans will vary according to the type of workplace. For example, needs are going to be different at a department store full of customers who are not fully versed on that building’s plan, compared to a corporate headquarters with administrative staffs and executives. Those variations are where security personnel and managers are vital, to determine those differences and include them in the plan. However, there are some very specific traits of an active shooter plan that work well at nearly any location.
- Red Flags – It’s important to identify a red flag – potential situation – before it becomes a scenario that makes the evening news. Many people exhibit signs that should not go unnoticed and be brought to the attention of supervisors:
- The inability to work well with others.
- Disparity and depression.
- Display of participation in extremist groups outside of work.
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Recent layoff (concerns).
- Strained relationships with other co-workers or management.
- Signs of aggression, such as yelling, entering the personal space of others, throwing things, making statements about getting even, or making others pay for something.
- Emergency Action Plan for Active Shooters - Beyond identifying a risk before it becomes something more, there will be a time when it could happen, no matter what. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does a fine job of supplying training and a basis for any company to develop an active shooter plan. Such things covered are the kinds of questions that plan developers should be asking: Is the business controversial? Are there security measures on-site or off-site? Is there a history of work violence? Development of a plan entails a lot of understanding of the business itself and the workforce it employs.
- Take Action – When things hit the fan and it gets real, people need to know what kind of action to take.
Step 1 - Each person should determine the best way to protect themselves. Managers, in particular, are going to be a guiding factor in this, as people will likely follow their lead.
Step 2 - Contact the authorities. There is a high likelihood they have already been notified by someone else, but it is very important to ensure this has been done. Everyone has a cell phone these days.
Step 3 – Take a planned escape route. This should be a major aspect of the active shooter plan presented to employees. Stairs, elevators, roof access, secret passages (if you work at a magic shop)...which ones to take and which ones not to take.
Step 4 - During the use of an escape route, all belongings should be left behind and hands should be kept visible so that responding police can recognize who the shooter is and who the shooter isn’t.
Step 5 – Hide, if an escape route is unavailable. This is normally called shelter-in-place. One can remain hidden, preferably behind locked doors with the lights out, perhaps even under a desk, until authorities can gain control of the shooter.
Step 6 – As a last resort, if all else fails, fight back. Again, this should be when nothing else has worked or when one is immediately in peril. The reason this should be done last is to exhaust all possibilities that will not bring potential harm to one’s self. Should fighting back become a need, potential methods include throwing items at the shooter, physically attacking the shooter, or even utilizing one’s own firearm (note – most places of employment prohibit them on the property).
Above and beyond all, every conceivable way to avoid contact with the shooter should be attempted, while leaving authorities to respond. Safety is paramount.
Article Author: Business Training Media
Business Training Media is a global provider of workplace violence training videos and online courses for employees, managers, supervisors and students. The company has provided training solutions to over 22,000 organizations worldwide from start-ups to high-profile companies like American Express, IBM, 3M, FedEx, American Honda, Cisco, Verizon, Microsoft, AT&T, Bank of America, Google and thousands of others.
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