Your workers undoubtedly have been trained on what to do in case of a fire or a major weather event such as a tornado, but would they know what to do if one or more people showed up at your workplace with the intent to randomly kill people? An active shooter incident is a scary and a terrible situation that hopefully you will not have to experience. However, with proper active shooter training for your workers there may be a chance to prevent, or at least minimize the damage of a tragic event.
The most effective way to train your workers to respond to an active shooter situation is to conduct mock active shooter training exercises. Local law enforcement is an excellent resource in designing training exercises. However, many companies and organizations have no plans in place to deal with the frightening prospect of an armed person walking into a workplace and opening fire. An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Law enforcement uses the term to describe a situation where a shooting incident is in progress and both police and the public have the potential to affect the event’s outcome, negatively or positively, based on their responses.
E A P Active Shooter Plan, you need to total understand that; An active shooter is defined as an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in the workplace or on the work sites. In most cases active shooters use a firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. In some cases active shooters use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices to cause additional victims and act as an impediment to police and emergency responders. IN THESE TYPES OF EVENTS AND TRAINING YOU NEED TO TAKE AWAY!
The most important step includes an emergency action plan. This plan must be communicated to employees with training on what to do, how to report in, whom to report to and what to be aware of in their daily work environment. The plan needs to be specific to each work area or location with identification of evacuation areas, routes, employee needs, etc. A general plan will likely just create confusion in an emergency. It is important for employees to understand that if they see something, they should say something and let a supervisor know their concerns. Employers need to work on encouraging an environment where employees are comfortable reporting situations that seem out of place or out of the ordinary routine. The active shooter scenario is unique in that the shooter may be an unknown person or a coworker. Either way, active shooters usually have one thing in mind: kill as many people as they can until they are stopped. They will not negotiate as they do not usually have any agenda other than killing people. Most active shooters will commit suicide when confronted by someone who can stop them. The typical active shooter scenario is over in 10 to 15 minutes and occurs at learning institutions or other areas of high occupancy.
YOUR EAP ACTIVE SHOOTER PLAN WILL HAVE PHASES PLUS TRAINING!
Components of your training should ABSOLUTELY include:
- Recognizing the sound of gunshots https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x19uoVfJnrM Most bullets travel faster than supersonic speed (1088 ft/sec at sea level) and what you hear is a mini sonic boom simultaneously with the explosion of the gunpowder & resultant gas from the barrel of the gun after the bullet leaves. An even bigger giveaway is that, usually gunshots shots are more “rhythmic” in their cadence than the random sequence of firecrackers.
- Reacting quickly when gunshots are heard and/or when a shooting is witnessed:
- Evacuating the area
- Hiding out
- Acting against the shooter as a last resort
- Calling 911
- Reacting when law enforcement arrives
- Adopting the survival mind-set during times of crisis
- Preparedness and prevention
Major components of an active shooter EAP (Emergency Action Plan) are preparedness and prevention. We’ve discussed the importance of knowing how to respond in an active shooter situation, but you should also establish prevention mechanisms.
- Ensure that your facility has at least two evacuation routes.
- Post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout your facility.
- Include local law enforcement and first responders during training exercises.
- Foster a respectful workplace.
- Develop procedures for reporting a potentially violent situation.
- Teach workers to recognize indicators of potentially violent behaviors.
- Be aware of indications of workplace violence, and take corrective actions accordingly.
Yes you still need to teach this stuff!
Run, hide and fight,” the Police/Law Enforcement advises.
1. Run: When an active shooter is in your vicinity: If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate the building. Evaluate whether others agree to evacuate. Don’t waste time collecting your belongings. Help others escape if possible. Prevent others from entering the area you have just left. Call 911 when you are safe.
2. Hide: If you can’t get out safely, you will need to find a hiding place out of the shooter’s view that will provide protection if shots are fired and will not trap or restrict your options for movement: Lock and/or blockade the door. Silence your cell phone. Hide behind large objects. Remain very quiet.
3. Fight: As a last resort and only if your life is in danger: Improvise weapons you can use against the shooter. Attempt to incapacitate that person. Commit to your actions, whether you are part of a team that is hiding, or you are by yourself. When police officers arrive, their first priority will be to locate and stop the shooter. Workers need to: Remain calm and follow instructions. Keep their hands visible at all times. Avoid pointing or yelling. Know that help for the injured is on the way.
Workplaces need to ask themselves in the event of an active shooting include:
- How will first observers/responders communicate the threat and to whom?
- How will the threat be communicated to everyone in the facility?
- Through code words?
- Should the facility be locked down or evacuated?
- Are all employees trained for active shooter incidents?
- Has security been trained in providing guidance to employees for this type of emergency?
- If your site does not have security, are your workers trained for this type of emergency?
- Do they know who to call if something happens?
- Do you have site-specific emergency plans in place?
- Do you have the capability to lock down your buildings remotely or deactivate card readers?
The most important thing that employers can do to strike back at workplace violence is to take proactive measures; have a plan in place, communicate that plan and train employees on what to do if the unimaginable happens. Employers need to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting unusual behavior or circumstances. This may not stop violence from intruding on your work environment; however, it will give your employees a better chance of surviving.