Active Shooters: Know the Drill
Monday’s school shooting in Chardon, Ohio serves as a sad reminder that campus violence is an ongoing threat, as is violence in the workplace. The thought that an active shooter incident could occur in our place of work is deeply disturbing, but there are ways to both minimize the chance that it will happen to your business while maximizing your chance of making it through such an event safely.
Have a plan
An emergency plan is vital to ensure your workplace is prepared. Detail in this document how your business would respond to different types of emergencies, who would lead the response and how you would communicate to employees, and include evacuation points and designated shelter-in-place locations.
Practice your plan
Having a plan is a good first step, but turning theory into practice is key. News reports of the shootings mention that in accordance with state regulations, the school regularly practiced drills and that classrooms were immediately “locked down” when a threat was suspected. Evacuation drills are commonplace in businesses and schools, but these “shelter in place” drills are equally as important and can save lives in the case of natural disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes as well as active shooter incidents. In the case of Chardon High School, as the County Commissioner commented, “It could have been a lot worse” had students and teachers not followed the lockdown procedure.
Test your plan against different scenarios
“Tabletops” are group exercises that can be customized to your company to help you explore how your team would respond to a particular threat scenario. These can be a great way to assess and find possible gaps in your plans, such as: how would you get out of the building if your primary evacuation route was blocked? You can then address these gaps and modify your plan accordingly.
Don’t just stick to one scenario – mix up your exercises and drills and practice a different one each quarter. Preparis X-Force member Michael Dorn, an expert in campus safety and workplace violence, says in his blog post on the Chardon shootings that rather than just focusing on one type of incident, such as an active shooter scenario, “simulation of a wide range of types of crisis situations is important”. Research has shown that this helps people make better decisions in all crises. Events are never going to happen exactly as you’ve practiced, but the principles of good communication and decision-making are transferable to all situations.
- Learn how to respond if there’s an active shooter incident in your building
- Download our free active shooter tabletop drill that can be customized for your company
- Know the warning signs of workplace violence
- Read more about the importance of using emergency notification during an active shooter incident