Nothing can completely prepare us for a situation involving an active shooter. Yet, as many recent events reveal, the threat is real.
According to the FBI, in these situations, your survival may depend on whether you have a plan. Adequate preparation includes knowing what to do, knowing escape routes, and taking precautions long before a situation arises.
Situations with active shooters are unpredictable and evolve quickly. In many cases the situation is over within 15 minutes — often before law enforcement officials have arrived. Preparing both mentally and physically to deal with such a situation is critical.
The Department of Homeland Security outlines three courses of action in its pamphlet Active Shooter How to Respond: evacuate, hide out and as a last resort, take action. Go here for complete suggestions.
For human resources professionals, preparation for such a situation is ongoing. Consider that virtually all individuals who commit acts of violence exhibit warning signs before doing so and tell at least one, and sometimes up to three people, before doing so. (1)
Preparation involves conducting effective employee screening and background checks, having a system in place for reporting of potentially violent behavior and having an emergency action plan in place. (2)
Related: Damage Caused by a Shoot Out: How’s It Covered?
from Texas Agent, July 28, 2016
The role of facility managers can also be critical. Building access controls, availability of floor plans and the general physical security of the building are components important to preventing such events as well as effectively reacting to them. The Department of Homeland Security suggests assembling kits containing radios, floor plans, first aid kits, flashlight as well as a staff roster with contacts.
An article on the topic provided by Church Mutual Insurance Company in its Risk Reporter Spring 2017 suggests keeping a database of “red flag” behavior could help connect the dots in order to predict violent tendencies. These include abrupt changes in personality from loud to silent, frequent filing of complaints, social media posts about violence, insubordinate behavior, concerning texts and emails and consistently poor work relationships. More information on behavioral threats can be found here.
When prevention fails, a crisis-communication plan can save lives. Social media, texts, and apps can be used to issue alerts and inform large groups of people of dangerous situations.
No one wants to believe that danger could happen nearby. However, it does occur all too often. Recognizing the threat, raising awareness and creating a plan can help save lives in the event of an active shooting situation.