Active Shooter Planning: 9 Things You Must Include in Your Emergency Action Plan
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare and something we never expect will actually happen in our own places of business. But understanding the warning signs and having an effective plan in place should an emergency like this arise, can help reduce fears and prepare your workforce as much as possible.
Every business, no matter the size or type, is a potential target for an active shooter. It can happen anywhere including malls, businesses, movie theaters, schools and places of worship. As a business owner or manager, you should have a thorough understanding of the warning signs, preparations that need to be taken, and a plan for actions and responses in the event you are ever confronted by an active shooter.
The FBI conducted a study of active shooter incidents that occurred from the years 2000-2013. In order for the incident to be classified as an active shooter incident, there had to be four or more deaths or people who were injured from that incident. Within the13-year study, an average of 11.4 incidents occurred annually. During the first seven years of the study, there was an average of 6.4 incidents and it increased to an average of 16.4 over the last seven years of the study.
According to the FBI, 2014 and 2015 each saw 20 active shooter incidents. That’s more than any two-year average in the past 16 years, and nearly six times as many as the period between 2000 and 2001. Seventy percent of incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment. And 60% of these incidents ended prior to police arriving. That means you must know what to do in the event you are confronted by an active shooter incident at your business.
Be knowledgeable and prepared
Understanding an active shooter is a good starting point. An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a conﬁned and populated area. Often, they use ﬁrearms and there may be no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
An active shooter looks for ease of movement that allows them to just walk into a business. This means a retail store, movie theater or any other business that has open public access is a prime target for them. The reason for this is that they can enter the building without having to go through security checkpoints. So, while your business may need to maintain open access there are actions you can take to prevent shootings and to know how to properly respond in the event of a shooting.
It is also important to understand that an active shooter can be either an employee or someone off the street. While you have no influence on a stranger, it is easier to deter an employee shooter because they have contact with co-workers and managers on a daily basis. There is a personal relationship that may work in your favor. Keep in mind that active shooters may be motivated by external circumstances such as marital issues, custody issues or financial issues, as well as by workplace issues.
Shooting events are not spontaneous…they require planning. They are unpredictable and evolve quickly, often taking only ten to 15 minutes and usually before law enforcement arrives. The shooter plans knowing the layout of the business and determining its security and access features. They then select their target by deciding on a favorable feature or convenience that makes it easier for them.
Planning is crucial for handling an active shooter situation
One of the first actions you should take is to assemble a planning team that works with your HR department. If you are too small of a business to have an HR department, you still need to develop a plan. The role of this team is to teach employees how to identify potentially dangerous behavior and to develop a method to report any behavior issues.
To best prepare your staff for an active shooter situation, create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and conduct regular training exercises. Create the EAP with input from your human resources department, your training department (if one exists), owners / operators/ managers, and always include local law enforcement and/or emergency responders.
This is where your preparedness comes into play. Determine the best way to protect your own life and everyone around you. People will follow the lead of employees and managers who are trained for the situation. Your EAP should include the following nine things:
Safety tip No. 1: A preferred method for reporting emergencies.
Safety tip No. 2: An evacuation policy and procedure that includes emergency escape procedures and route assignments (i.e., ﬂoor plans, safe areas). Leave personal items behind. Keep your hands visible. Do not move anyone who is wounded. Follow police instructions.
Safety Tip No. 3: A crisis plan including contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under the EAP, as well as designated spokespeople who have been trained to talk to the media or others.
Safety tip No. 4: Information concerning local area hospitals (i.e., name, telephone number and distance from your location).
Safety tip No. 5: An emergency notiﬁcation system to alert various parties of an emergency including: Individuals at remote locations within premises, law enforcement and area hospitals.
Safety tip No. 6: Mock active shooter training exercises and information on how to recognize and react to the sound of gunshots. Training exercises are the most effective way to train your staff to properly respond to an active shooter situation.
Safety tip No. 7: Information on how and where to hide out. Lock doors and block with heavy furniture if possible. Hide under furniture or in closets. Stay quiet and as calm as possible.
Safety tip No. 8: At least two evacuation routes that you post on the premises.
Safety tip No. 9: A plan to stay aware of indications of workplace violence and take immediate actions in an attempt to avert any workplace violence situations.
Taking these steps and preparing for workplace violence and active shooters will help keep everyone safe in the event of a confrontation.
President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security Expert Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.