Active Shooter Response: Preparing for the Unthinkable

Sep 7, 2017 3:50:06 PM


The Unthinkable

So, you stroll into the office like any other workday. As you sit down at your desk you suddenly hear the sounds of loud bangs down the hall. Your first instinct is to think, “What was that? Were those gunshots?”  It doesn’t make sense to you. Then you hear several more shots, followed by screams. Suddenly you feel sick to your stomach and your heart starts pounding. You can’t believe this is happening, and a feeling of panic overwhelms you. 

Sound scary? I agree. While still statistically rare, these “active shooter” situations are happening more often. In fact, many organizations are asking what they can do to prepare for these types of situations.  Employees need to feel safe in the workplace, and we owe it to our employees to answer the question, “What if?”

For some organizations, the easy solution has been to send everyone a link to the “Run, Hide, Fight” video that is available on the internet. In fact, just sending the video via email with no explanation or context will probably frighten some of your employees, and make them question who just made a threat against the organization. Click on the image to view the video.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself? 

And while the concept of “Run, Hide, Fight” seems simple, without context the reality of those responses may not be practical without training. Most of us can imagine the running and hiding part, but fighting? With an armed assailant who is shooting people? Unless you are a competitive cage fighter on the weekends, most people haven’t had a physical fight since a 6th grade school yard incident. And where do I hide? Under the desk? In the closet?

There are answers available. 

After the 2015 active shooter event in San Bernardino, CA our clients reached out to us for help because their employees were frightened. Many of these organizations had heard of the “Run, Hide, Fight” video and wondered if they should share it in their workplaces. In response, we developed a tool that provides the context that is missing in the video. Click on the green button to download the tool, “Tips for Using the Run > Hide > Fight Video”

Tips for Using the Run Hide Fight Video 

So, what else can you do to mitigate the anxiety you feel when we see or hear of another active shooter incident in a work place?

You must first approach the potential active shooter incident with the same level of preparedness as other emergency incidents. An active shooter protocol should be simple and practical. Remember as an elementary school child how they physically made us line up and leave the building during a fire drill? We were building muscle memory so we could perform under the stress of an actual fire. As one of my trainers put it, “We don’t rise to the occasion; we sink to our level of preparedness.”

The 7-Minute Survival Window

In an active shooter situation, you must survive for approximately 7 minutes until the police arrive. What steps do you need to take to prepare for those 7 minutes?

  • Familiarize yourself with every exit route from your work space
  • Identify places to hide that provide high levels of security in case you must ‘shelter in place’
    • For example, look for rooms with solid doors, manual locks, and no front facing windows
  • If the shooter tries to enter the room, stay low and close to the door. Running to the far side of the room makes you an easier target.
  • Stay near the door and attack as a group
    • Grab for the gun and force it towards the ground
    • Use your body weight
    • Attack the eyes, face, groin, knees
  • Do whatever you can to disarm or disable the shooter. At this point it is a ‘do or die’ situation

The bottom line is that no one wants to be in this situation. But if you find yourself faced with an active shooter in the vicinity, you want to have the confidence that you can survive. Prepare ahead of time and seek training and practice. Share the information with your family and friends. Preparedness can save lives!  

For additional information on improving the odds for survival in an active shooter event, click here to read our blog "Situational Awareness in a Post-Las Vegas World".

Topics: Active Shooter

Wayne R. Spees

Written by Wayne R. Spees