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
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
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)
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
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.