By John Arendes, VP and GM, Global Compliance Solutions, Skillsoft
Today, tragic events in the news are far too commonplace. In recent years, the United States has witnessed shootings in schools, shopping malls, places of worship, nightclubs and workplaces.
FBI data shows a dramatic increase in annual active shooter events, from one incident in 2000 to 20 in 2016.
While the likelihood of experiencing an active shooter incident is minimal, it could happen to anyone. Proper planning, procedures and training can be the difference between life and death.
Most companies create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and tornados, but few have a plan in the event of an active shooter or violent attacker.
A simple escape plan, like a typical fire drill, is not enough.
What if the perpetrator is near the exit?
What if there are gunshots and it’s not safe to move?
It’s important that organizations and businesses proactively plan for possible incidents and educate employees on how to prepare and respond to those scenarios.
With seconds to spare, employees must be able to swiftly determine the correct course of action depending on the circumstances: escape, hide in a secure location or physically engage with the perpetrator.
Active shooter incidents are sudden, and the first thought should be to run from the threat.
If there is an escapable path, employees should exit the building as quickly as possible.
Alerting people on your way out is okay, but individuals should not stop.
Businesses should have a predetermined meeting point outside the building with a predesignated supervisor to perform a roll call to ensure everyone is present and safe.
Moreover, all employees should know who is in charge of calling 911 to alert authorities and relay pertinent details such as a physical description of the perpetrator, their last known location, type of weapons, etc.
If escaping is not possible, hiding is the next best option to consider.
Find a secure location to hide where the active shooter is unlikely to find you.
Encourage employees to consider which objects could provide the best protection.
There are four principles to remember when hiding from an active shooter:
- Avoid hiding in a confined place
- Find a lockable room and then lock and blockade the door
- Turn out the lights, close the blinds, silence phones and be as quiet as possible. If possible, call 911 and leave the line open for the dispatcher
- Finally, keep low to the ground and do not group together
If there is no other option, neutralizing the attacker is the last thing to consider.
If the escape routes are blocked, and the shooter is approaching don’t hesitate or attempt to negotiate.
Strike hard and authoritatively to neutralize the threat.
Be violently aggressive and improvise with weapons, such as fire extinguishers, tools, chairs or heavy objects.
These tips are a good first step to help employees feel more prepared for an active shooter situation.
However, employees need to understand that even the best-laid plans may change.
Every situation is fluid, and no one can plan for exactly what will happen, so being nimble is extremely important.
Proper training and practice can equip employees with information to make smart decisions under pressure.
These kinds of events unfold quickly, and preparation is critical to surviving such an incident.
It is essential to consult a professional to ensure your plan makes sense, is efficient, has been practiced and that there will be no confusion.
Some resources and experts offer comprehensive training programs on the topic to help businesses better understand, plan and prepare for active shooter incidents.
Have a plan in place.
You may never need to use it, but it will give you–and your teams–peace of mind.
About the Author:
As the Vice President and GM Global Compliance Solutions for Skillsoft, John Arendes is responsible for the leading the direction of our Global Compliance solutions, ensuring our Compliance programs have a multinational impact for organizations.
John works closely with many clients in identifying best practices for successful compliance training programs.
John’s experience crosses multiple verticals in dealing with compliance training.
Prior to joining Skillsoft John was Head of Compliance Learning, North America for Thomson Reuters.