Thursday, March 11, 2010

Active Shooter/Shots Fired in the Building

Contributed by: Larry Kaminer, Personal Safety Training Group
Shots fired?
Have you trained for this?
Would your employees know what to do?
Webinar on this topic!

Within days of presenting on this topic at a safety conference, I awoke to read about the senseless slaughter of thirteen at Fort Hood. On the same day a disgruntled employee shot one dead and wounded another in Orlando Florida. Four days later domestic violence spilled over into the workplace as a man shot his ex wife dead in Tualatin Oregon. Then two are shot dead at a Baton Rouge construction company. Breaking the gender mold, a female professor kills three during a meeting at the University of Alabama and just last week it was the shooting outside the Pentagon. This list will continue to grow.

Despite the “low probability” of these “high impact” events occurring, many companies I work with tell me they haven’t given this much thought, wouldn’t know what to do, and haven’t given their staff any training. Why would you have an EAP Emergency Action Plan) for an earthquake, but not a gunman in your building?

Which barrier to “awareness and preparedness” is at play here; apathy, complacency or denial? Or is it perhaps optimism bias at play.

I have been on the receiving end of gunfire albeit not in a work environment. I never thought this would happen to me either. I froze up like the proverbial “deer in the headlights” as valuable seconds ticked by before I stopped thinking and actually began to react. I was lucky to get away unscathed.
Having a well rehearsed EAP, visualizing response options and practicing enhances muscle memory for a situation in which every second will count.

Here are few facts to keep in mind and some tips to consider:
  • According to Homeland Security, shooters do most damage within the first few minutes and usually before police arrive. During those crucial minutes all you will have are each other and any action plan you have put in place, or not.
  • Under duress, employees almost always look to their superiors for leadership. This could not be truer than during a life or death crisis.
  • If you have several panic buttons strategically placed within your facility you will be able to sound the alarm sooner in a situation in which every second counts.
  • If you have practiced retreating to designated “safe rooms” such as offices with heavy locking doors, your staff will be more efficient during an actual retreat. Taking note of all “hard points” behind which to take cover is also important.
  • Once in a “safe room” it is critical to keep quiet, put cell phones in vibrate mode, turn off the lights and not draw any attention to your position.
  • Of equal importance, know where you will NOT retreat to. An example is the bottom of a stairwell, will you arrive only to find it leads to a permanently locked utility exit door?
  • Exits should be constructed so that they cannot be easily blocked from the outside such as with a nearby wheeled dumpster or vehicle. The shooter at the immigration center in Binghamton, NY blocked the rear exit with his car.
  • If you have facilities at other locations they too need to be alerted.
  • It is also important to know how to react to the responding SWAT team who will be barking out orders and moving through your facility very aggressively. In the “fog” of the situation an innocent employee’s finger pointing to where the threat came from could look like a gun in hand!

  • Think outside the box: Have you trained your employees on what to do if there was a shooting while they are visiting a client’s office?

    Evergreen Safety Council and The Personal Safety Training Group are offering a 90 minute webinar on April 7th designed to address the challenge of a gunman in the building and will offer the foundation for constructing an emergency action plan.

    At this very moment it is not a gunman that is our biggest threat - It’s the three enemies of “awareness and preparedness”; apathy, complacency and denial. Register for the webinar today.

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