by Dave Bos / Executive Director, League Association of Risk Management (LARM)
Recent events in America have once again reminded us of how important it is to have a workplace emergency response plan for the possibility of an active shooter incident occurring where we work. Although these incidents are sometimes referred to as high-severity/low-frequency events - meaning they cause extensive damage, but don’t occur relatively often - there is no room for hesitation when it comes to training and being prepared for something like this.
To say the least, active shooter situations are very intense and the stress they cause can make it almost impossible for some people to react quickly when their minds have frozen them into place while they try to figure out the best course of action. The terms “flight, fight or freeze” are often used. Although getting away from an assailant is always the best course of action, it is not always possible. Therefore, it is crucially important to be familiar with your surroundings, run scenarios through your mind, train employees to do the same and discuss amongst the workforce - “what would we do” and “where would we go” - if this ever happened at our workplace. Live training, mental rehearsals and always being in the mindset of readiness vs. denial are the first steps in preparing for one of these horrific events.
Here are a few additional tips that might just save lives:
First and foremost, always try to get away from an active shooter situation. This means get as far away as fast as you can, but if you cannot leave the area, look for a place to hide. If you are hiding from a shooter, stay quiet, lock any doors and barricade entrances if possible.
Call 911 when you are in a position making it safe enough to do so. If you are hiding and cannot talk on the phone because the shooter might hear you, stay silent but make the call to 911 and leave the line open so a dispatcher can hear what’s happening.
If you cannot leave the area but can hide, stay hidden until law enforcement arrives, locates you, and gives you specific directions. Law enforcement will give you clear directions and it is very important to completely follow those directions. If you do leave the area, do not go back for belongings or others.
Fighting or confronting a shooter should only be used as a last resort but if you have no other option, use anything and any means necessary to protect yourself or others to stop the shooter’s actions.