While no one wants to think about the possibility that an active shooter could enter your workplace, it is always better to look ahead and be prepared. Kara Metzger, Director of Operations and Business Development at our Vandalia office, attended an active shooter class in Effingham, Illinois on November 7th.
The Effingham Chamber of Commerce sponsored this class, taught by Michael Mobley, a retired ISP officer. The tips below were given during the informational session and come directly from Homeland Security. The full guide to have on hand at your office or facility can be seen and downloaded here.
TRAINING YOUR STAFF FOR AN ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATION:
To best prepare your staff for an active shooter situation, create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and conduct training exercises. Together, the EAP and training exercises will prepare your staff to effectively respond and help minimize loss of life.
Components of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
Create the EAP with input from several stakeholders including your human resources department, your training department (if one exists), facility owners/ operators, your property manager, and local law enforcement and/or emergency responders. An effective EAP includes:
- A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies
- An evacuation policy and procedure
- Emergency escape procedures and route assignments (i.e., floor plans, safe areas)
- Contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under the EAP
- Information concerning local area hospitals (i.e., name, telephone number, and distance from your location)
- An emergency notification system to alert various parties of an emergency including:
- Individuals at remote locations within premises
- Local law enforcement
- Local area hospitals
Components of Training Exercises
The most effective way to train your staff to respond to an active shooter situation is to conduct mock active shooter training exercises. Local law enforcement is an excellent resource in designing training exercises.
- Recognizing the sound of gunshots
- Reacting quickly when gunshots are heard and/or when a shooting is witnessed
- Calling 911
- Reacting when law enforcement arrives
- Adopting the survival mind set during times of crisis
Prepare For and Prevent an Active Shooter Situation
- Ensure that your facility has at least two evacuation routes
- Post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout your facility
- Include local law enforcement and first responders during training exercises
- Encourage law enforcement, emergency responders, SWAT teams, and bomb squads to train for an active shooter scenario at your location
- Foster a respectful workplace
- Be aware of indications of workplace violence and take remedial actions accordingly
HOW TO RESPOND WHEN AN ACTIVE SHOOTER IS IN YOUR VICINITY
Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation.
If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.
Be sure to:
- Have an escape route and plan in mind
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
- Leave your belongings behind
- Help others escape, if possible
- Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
- Keep your hands visible
- Follow the instructions of any police officers
- Do not attempt to move wounded people
- Call 911 when you are safe
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.
Your hiding place should:
- Be out of the active shooter’s view
- Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
- Not trap you or restrict your options for movement
To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
- Lock the door
- Blockade the door with heavy furniture
If the active shooter is nearby:
- Lock the door
- Silence your cell phone and/or pager
- Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
- Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
- Remain quiet
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
- Remain calm
- Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location
- If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
- Throwing items and improvising weapons
- Committing to your actions
CALL 911 WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO!
HOW TO RESPOND WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT ARRIVES
Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
- Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4)
- Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
- Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
- Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
- Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety
How to react when law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions
- Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
- Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
- Keep hands visible at all times
- Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety
- Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
***Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operator:
- Location of the active shooter
- Number of shooters, if more than one
- Physical description of shooter/s
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
- Number of potential victims at the location
The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.
Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.