Active Shooter: Planning Ahead and Responding to a Worst-Case Scenario

Emergency vehicle lightingIt’s a nightmare situation – an active shooter in your facility. What to do?

Before training individuals how to respond, your organization should conduct a realistic security assessment to determine your facility’s vulnerability to an attack. This includes:

  • Identifying multiple evacuation routes
  • Designating shelter locations
  • Designating a point of contact with knowledge of the facility and the security procedures
  • Establishing a working relationship with local law enforcement, and
  • Conducting regular evacuation drills.

Once you’ve developed a plan, invite local law enforcement to review it. Next, exercise the plan, learn where the gaps are, and make the necessary adjustments. Then, drill regularly.

In addition to drilling employees on evacuations, they should also be trained in the active shooter response strategy recommended by law enforcement: Run, Hide, Fight.

Run – If it is safe to do so, building occupants should evacuate the facility. Evacuees should leave all personal belongings, visualize the escape route before beginning to move, and avoid using elevators and escalators

Hide – If evacuation is not possible, occupants should hide a secure area, such as the established shelter area, then lock and barricade the door, cover windows, turn off the lights, and remain silent

Fight – If neither evacuation nor hiding are options, building occupants should consider attempting to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter using aggressive force and any objects in the environment (scissors, fire extinguishers, chairs, etc.)

When law enforcement arrives on the scene, remember that their priority is to identify and mitigate the shooter. Steps for employees:

  • Do not yell, scream, wave arms, or make sudden movements
  • Do not hold anything in your hands that can be misconstrued as a weapon (including cell phones)
  • Show empty hands to the officers and comply with their instructions
  • Keep hands on head if instructed

This is why establishing a relationship with law enforcement, including local, state, and federal partners, can be crucial. If there is an incident at your facility, a liaison that knows the company, its culture, and contacts in law enforcement can be a valuable part of the decision making process.

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