Your 3-Step Emergency Plan For An Active Shooter

Closeup of Woman Aiming Shotgun

On December 2, 2015, there was not one, but two mass shootings. One in San Bernardino, CA killing 14 and wounding 17 at a social services center and the other, not as widely known, in Savannah, Ga. Where a gunman shot four people, killing a woman and injuring three men. Recently, in 2016, 50 people were killed and more injured at a mass shooting in a club in Florida in June and in November, 11 are reportedly injured and one dead at Ohio State University.

Unfortunately, this is the society we live in. People getting attacked on the job, in community centers, etc. It’s heartbreaking. But the most important thing that employers and leaders can do to strike back at workplace/onsite violence is to take proactive measures; have a plan in place, communicate that plan and train employees on what to do if the unimaginable happens. This may not stop violence from intruding on your work environment; however, it will give your employees a better chance of surviving.

According to the American Society of Safety Engineers & Homeland Security, what may surprise people is that most active shooters are not former employees, coworkers or even strangers. Historically, almost half of the active shooters in a work environment were customers and/or clients. These people usually have knowledge of the building, including areas where people tend to congregate, such as break rooms and conference rooms, and they know the planned escape routes.

With this in mind, employers need to be able to notify their employees that a situation is developing without
alerting the shooter. One way to do this is to develop a code, similar to “Code Adam” used in retail stores for
a missing child. This code should be communicated to all employees, be simple to use and sound like routine
communications in the work environment. The code may be as simple as asking “Alice, please call Reception” or
“Gerald, please report to the front desk” when there is no employee named Alice or a front desk. Higher-education employers have set up text mail systems where they can send out a mass text or e-mail to alert students and faculty to potential situations.

Once employees recognize the alert code, they need to make the decision. Here’s your 3 choices:

Run: Leave all personal items behind and watch for danger along the evacuation route (the shooter may be familiar with the routes and may be waiting for employees at the exit point). Leave your cell phone in your pocket. Keep your hands visible at all times so law enforcement can see that you are not hiding anything.

Hide: Turn off your cell phone, including vibration mode, and stay quiet. If you attempt to text family or friends to tell them to alert authorities, have a code word previously set up to let them know it is a legitimate emergency and not a hoax. This will also let them know that they should not call you back.