Preventing, Preparing, Planning for an Active Shooter Situation

While most of us assume that we’ll never be faced with an active shooter situation, as countless recent national tragedies and news reports remind us, the risk is very real.

Whatever part of the country or industry you work in, it’s important to remember that active shooter incidents can occur anytime, anywhere. It’s vital that you adopt a proactive attitude when it comes to preparing for the possibility of facing an active shooter event.

Preparing for a worst-case scenario now could save countless lives later. Are you being proactive enough in the planning, preparation and prevention of a possible active shooter event? Here are some guidelines to get you started…

Planning: Create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

Ensure readiness for yourself and your teammates for any foreseen emergency events and especially an active shooter situation by creating an emergency action plan (EAP).

Drawing up and documenting an EAP is a vital step to getting all your employees and departments ready for an emergency. As such, many different teams and departments will need to come together and provide input on your EAP.

Ultimately, an effective EAP will include:

    • A method for quickly reporting emergency situations to all staff
    • Evacuation policies and procedures
    • Clearly documented emergency escape procedures and routes
    • A directory of contact information for all relevant parties within the organization
    • An emergency notification system to alert local hospitals and law enforcement

Many stakeholders should be involved in developing an emergency action plan and the execution of your EAP. For instance, Human Resources (HR) departments may help educate all staff members about the EAP, ensuring your EAP has provisions and considerations of employees with special needs. Facility managers and administrators may need to institute access controls, distribute critical items such as floor plans and keys, coordinate information among departments, and create crisis kits, including floor plans, first aid kits, and flashlights. Finally, managers and team leaders will need to be familiar with the EAP, know how to evacuate staff and visitors, and be prepared to lock and barricade doors in the event of a lockdown.

Preparation: Educate Your Team

Conducting training exercises/drills is one of the most important things you can do to help prepare your staff to respond effectively to an emergency to minimize potential of injury or loss of life.

Going through classroom training and hosting mock violent behavior/active shooter exercises can help train your staff about how to react to a workplace violence or active shooter event. Broadly speaking, these exercises can help prepare all your team members to:

  • Recognize the sound of gunshots
  • Adopt a survival mindset in a crisis
  • React quickly to evacuate, hide out, or act against the shooter as a last resort
  • Help any visitors and guests to safety
  • Call 911 and be prepared to help authorities when they arrive

In addition, holding training exercises can help enable all individuals in your workplace on how to best take care of themselves in an emergency, including knowing when and how to:

  • Run
    It’s vital that all employees understand how best to evacuate in the event of an active shooter, following a prepared escape route or path and being prepared to abandon their belongings and contact 911 when they’re safe
  • Hide
    If evacuation is impossible, it’s vital that you know how to shelter in place, which may include finding a spot outside of the shooter’s view, locking or blockading entrances, and remaining quiet
  • Fight – as a last resort
    It’s important that all individuals understand that they should only fight if their lives are in imminent danger, and grasp the best strategies for disrupting or incapacitating an intruder if the need arises.
  • Respond when law enforcement arrives
    When authorities arrive, employees need to know to remain calm, keep their hands empty and visible and follow all instructions when given.  

Prevention: Recognize the Potential for Violence

While it may never be possible to fully predict, or prevent when an active shooter incident may occur, there are steps that your organization can take to stay on top of worrisome signs and curtail them before they can escalate.

As a rule, it can help to train all employees, HR officials, and managers to be aware of indications of workplace violence and know how to take remedial steps. Other preventative measures for the workplace may include:

  • Creating a system for reporting potentially violent behavior
  • Educating employers on how to screen new hires and perform background checks
  • Making counseling services available on-site
  • Knowing the indicators of potential violence, which may include: depression/withdrawal, increased use of alcohol or drugs, paranoid behavior, unstable or overly emotional outbursts, and more.

Want to get proactive when it comes to ensuring the safety and security of your workplace? O’Gara Training and Services can help. We offer very progressive and informative Workplace Violence / Active Shooter and Response Training (ASRT) courses nationally. We train organizations, institutions, governments, agencies and individuals on situational awareness, individual actions, executive, management, staff and individual readiness, law enforcement response, recovery plans and more.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to see what our team can do for yours.