By David Powell with strategic HR, inc.
Unfortunately, there have been an increased number of active shooter incidents across the country. With the increase in number, it becomes even more critical to ensure we help prepare our employees should the unthinkable happen. However, many employers are unsure where to begin to help prepare their employees for a potential active shooter event.
We’ve all experienced firsthand the tornado and fire drills to help prepare us should one of these events occur. Active Shooter Training is no different. It is important for employees to understand the company plan and options to prevent mass panic if an active shooter incident did occur.
One of the first things an organization needs to do is to determine the threat level to their place of business. Are there clear threats that could be identified? Is your place of business at higher risk such as late-night retailers, liquor stores, and even banks? Is there a former employee, disgruntled customer, or is there an employee that has problems with a husband, wife or former boyfriend that could threaten your organization? Sadly, there does not seem to be a clear answer to this question. Many businesses that have been the victims of this type of attack really have very little in common. There have been attacks at movie theaters, airports, labor offices, and trading companies just to name a few. The key to increasing your odds of surviving an active shooter event is to have a plan.
An Active Shooter Plan needs to be simple and easy to remember and understand. You need to ensure all your employees know the plan, and most importantly you need to rehearse the plan. Some of the things to consider when developing your plan:
- How will you notify your employees that an event is happening including employees at the location and employees that may be off site?
- Do your employees know where all the exits in your facility are?
- Do you have an accurate list of your employees and how you will account for them?
- Who will contact the local authorities?
Remember that rehearsing the plan is just as important as the development of the plan. The first few times you rehearse you may identify shortfalls that you may want to add to the plan, and that’s okay. The more you run through the rehearsals, the quicker it will become and the more comfortable your employees will become with it.
Your Active Shooter Plan should also include some basic strategies that your employees may more easily remember in the moment. For example:
Awareness: When was the last time you were walking along looking at your phone and not paying any attention to what was going on around you? It is important to take steps to become more aware of your surroundings to be able to recognize if anything isn’t “normal”. And also, like on an airplane, you need to be aware of your exits should an incident occur.
Run: If you would ever find yourself in an active shooter situation, look at your options and assess if running may work. If running is an option, go – go as fast as you can. Don’t worry about taking personal items with you. And, if you can, urge others to join you as running is your best chance to survive. You may even have individuals that will freeze in the situation and you’ll need to pull them along. Get out and get safe!
Hide: Unfortunately, running may not always be an option for you. If you find yourself in this situation, look for a place to hide that is out of sight and could even block gunfire. If possible lock or barricade the door. Remember to silence your cell phone.
Fight: Even if you hide, you may find you have to fight back. Look around for any type of object – blunt, sharp or even something to throw at the shooter to distract them. If you are with a group of people, work together to overpower the shooter.
In all four of these situations, call 911 if you are safely out of the building or hidden. You may have to make the call on a cell phone. Remember, 911 may not know where you are on a cell. So, be ready to provide details and any details you know about the current shooting incident.
The reality of gun violence is that it is not new. However, there is not necessarily legislation requiring employers to take action. In the event of an active shooter, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will come in to evaluate what happened and how it may have been prevented. OSHA has the ability to penalize employers if reasonable steps to maintain a safe workplace were not in place. What the agency considers “reasonable” is subjective and will depend on the specifics of each case. But, no matter how much an employer tries to keep their employees safe, they cannot prevent every possible event. A “No Weapons Allowed” policy in the company handbook or a “No Guns Allowed” sticker on the front door are good steps but are not going to protect employees, when an active shooter event occurs, which could be at any time.
It is important for the company to recognize that the threat is real, and they need to do as much as they can to protect their employees. It is important for the company leadership to support the development and training of a realistic Active Shooter Plan that meets their company’s specific needs and prepares their employees for surviving the unthinkable.
Have questions about this article or need help developing your Active Shooter Plan and Training, contact strategic HR, inc. at info@strategicHRinc.com or 513-697-9855. strategic HR, inc. is fortunate to have two well trained experts on staff to help customize your plan and training.