Active Shooter Emergency Response
It's rare to watch the news in today's world and not see an article or situation involving gun violence unfortunately. Realistically an active shooter situation is extremely rare - however the event is hideous and therefore captures our attention and can evoke a feeling of fear or terror.
An active shooter is a very specific person or group that enters a public, populated place for the sole purpose of killing. There are no demands so as such there is zero negotiating or rationalizing that can be done to resolve the situation.
All our dealers have had the occasional disgruntled client or coworker and typically those situations can be de-escalated, they have a specific outcome in mind involving resolution to a problem or a personal issue with a specific person in the workplace. These are not, 99% of the time, occurrences that unravel into an active shooter situation.
Emergency preparedness for an active shooter is quite opposite to almost every other emergency response training. However, reiterating how unlikely it is that your workplace will be the target of an active shooter, it is far more important to to follow every day safety and emergency response practices then always being prepared for a shooter.
As an employer, if you choose to provide active shooter emergency preparedness training, what would that look like?
Here are 5 key areas to train your employees:
1. Teach your employees what a gunshot sounds like.
Movies and video games are embellished and will not provide a realistic expectation. The gunshot noise is what an employee will use to identify a potential active shooter event and respond appropriately. Many people do not recognize a gun shot for what it is as it sounds quite different than what they have heard on television.
Here is a video that demonstrates the authentic sound of gun fire.
2. Shots are fired, what do you do?
There are three choices that should be practiced in this order from best choice to last resort: RUN, HIDE or FIGHT.
RUN - Get out of the building, run in the opposite direction of the sound of gunfire. Take people with you if safe to do so and alert others on the way out. Once outside seek shelter, do not gather in open spaces like a Muster Point in a parking lot. Let staff know if an event like this occurs they are encouraged to get away as far as possible, even if they go home.
HIDE - If running is not possible then find a safe location that can be locked and preferably does not have a window where you could be in the line of sight of the shooter. Be quiet and stay as inconspicuous as possible. Remember you are not singled out, you are only a target if you are seen. Silence your phone and do not open the door or make yourself visible until you hear an all clear.
FIGHT - A last resort ONLY if you are trapped and in imminent danger. Throw objects at the assailant such as books, desk objects or even a fire extinguisher. You can rush a shooter as a group and overpower with numbers if there are absolutely no other options.
**It's a good practice for anyone, in any place they visit, to take note of the two nearest exits in the event of emergency such as a fire or violent situation
3. What information do you provide to 911?
Employees should only call 911 if they are in a safe location and will not draw attention to themselves. If you can dial 911 but can't speak leave the line open and allow dispatch to listen to gunfire and trace your call.
If you can speak say "Active Shooter on site." and if you can provide the following details do so:
Location and # of shooters
Physical description of shooters
Number and type of weapons used
Number and location of potential victims
4. When law enforcement arrives
Law enforcement will have one directive on arrival - proceed to where shots were last heard and eliminate threat or take down shooter.
If you encounter law enforcement keep your hands empty, raised and visible. Remain calm and follow their instructions.
Do NOT ask them for assistance or direction when evacuating if shooter is still active, they are focused on the threat.
5. Teach your employees this is the time to have a survival mindset
Shooting events last between 5-10 minutes, employees must focus on themselves and their ability to survive for 15 minutes until the threat is eliminated.
Remind employees that the shooter is not looking for them specifically as individuals, they will kill who they can see. Get out of sight, get far away and keep quiet.
Employees should NOT under any circumstances attempt to engage the shooter, they will not negotiate or rationalize.
After the threat is eliminated and the scene is clear then employees can check in with their supervisor or employer for head count.
Involve your employees in your emergency response planning, this will lead to cooperation when carrying out procedures.
It's great to be prepared but do not encourage anyone to become paranoid or fearful on a daily basis. You are more likely to be struck by lightning then be involved in an active shooter situation.