5 Steps to Develop your Active Shooter Response Plan

Developing Your Active Shooter Response Plan:

Does your firm have an Active Shooter Response Plan?  Has your plan been communicated to your employees?  Do you routinely have Active Shooter Response Drills?

As you are aware, the national conversation and the most recent statistics show that violence in the workplace is becoming more common.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5% of all businesses experience an instance of workplace violence each year. For larger organizations with over 1,000 employees, this rate is increased tenfold to 50 percent.  A 2014 report from the FBI found active shooter incidents in the U.S. now occur on an average of once a month. Of these incidents, almost half (45.6 percent) occurred at a business while nearly a quarter (24.4 percent) occurred at schools and institutions of higher learning.

Although active threats can vary from incident to incident, the common threads found throughout can be woven together to create an effective and successful safety program. The following are bullet-points from lessons learned gleaned from research & years of experience fighting terrorism both on and off the battlefield.  I help businesses develop tools for building a solid foundation for a safety-minded workplace.  Then, I teach them how to respond when violence visits.

Mindset to Clear the First Hurdle:

More often than not, active threat training is the elephant in the room. Everyone has seen or heard of incidents, but are reluctant to take the steps toward mitigation. The reasons may vary.  From believing it’ll make employees more fearful than empowered; to worrying the training might not be “right” for the team. However, looking the other way is not a solution to any problem, much less one with deadly consequences.

Statistics show an active shooter incident is more of an ‘when‘ than an ‘if‘.  Unfortunately, violence doesn’t discriminate on where it can take place.  It could happen at your headquarters, warehouse or storefront.  All aspects of your business should be involved in preventative measures.

Breaking through the barrier of apprehension begins “One Team, One Goal” approach.  Leadership should evaluate the type of training that fits their organization’s culture.  Supervisors should communicate the importance of such training to employees, and clearly explain how the training will be implemented.

Flexible Response Plans:

Violence is seldom a cookie cutter affair, and a “one size fits all” response is an ineffective solution. Conversely, having too many threat-specific responses can be confusing, if not outright dangerous.  While different threats do warrant varying responses, a series of “stovepipe” procedures can cripple an organization during a high stress scenario.

All active threat response plans should be built upon the same principles.  Even if the minute details are lost in the heat of the moment, team members can still make informed decisions to ensure their safety.  Streamlining processes encourages a quick implementation and retention of information.  Knowledge increases confidence, confidence increases decisiveness, and it is decisive action in a critical incident that saves lives.

Proactive Response Plans:

As a result of the number of Active Shooter Events (ASE), there is a movement for companies to have a Plan of Action.  For better or worse, increased exposure of violence in the workplace means it an issue thrust into the forefront.  A strategy based on “it won’t happen to me” is a folly that can irreparably destroy a brand.

An effective response plan doesn’t begin when the incident occurs, but as soon as training can be conducted. Empowering employees with tools on how to identify and communicate possible high-risk indicators such as signs of growing anger, depression or erratic behavior can be just as, if not more effective, as decisive action during an active threat.

Clear Communication Plans:

A cohesive “one-team” mindset supported by a response plan based on fundamentals cannot take place without clear communication before, during, and after a critical incident.  The language plays a critical role in an active threat response program and can dictate the program’s success or failure. Such language should be consistent with current policies and procedures so the program is both effective and legally defensible.

Each company will need to tailor its active threat response plan to fit its culture and workplace environment. Thankfully, a simple concept already exists so organizations may build a clear and coherent plan: “Run, Hide, Fight.”

Customer Service:

Communication during a critical incident is not limited to employees.  It extends to customer interaction as well. How a company communicates around and with customers during an active threat incident can play a vital role in minimizing the harm as a result of panic.

Every active threat mitigation plan should include an emergency communication strategy which may contain one or two common components:

  • First is the use of a code like “Code Adam”.  This will notify employees to a specific issue, while customers and vendors remain unaware of any possible threat.
  • The second option is to use “plain English”.  This will notify everyone quickly which improves situational awareness.  For example, instead of using “Code Red” for an active shooter incident, the alert would announce there is an active shooter situation in progress.  This will allow employees, customers and vendors to take decisive action.

Every active threat situation will unfold differently.  External factors such as the weather, type of environment, and other variables can present unpredictable outcomes. By being proactive, such as implementing sound training strategies, companies can be prepared for and respond to an active threat. Through the empowerment of its most valuable assets – its people – companies can mitigate risks.   Thereby, protecting the safety of its employees, customers, and community.

SSG specializes in designing & implementing Active Shooter Response plans for your business, school, or firm.  We work with your CSO, Legal, HR and Supervisors to develop a portal to report pre-incident indicators.  We help develop and train your Crisis Management Team; and we will train your entire staff in how to identify threats and how to respond in the event of an armed assault.

Contact Shaffer Security Group for your Active Shooter Response training today.

http://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/88045-keys-to-building-a-successful-active-threat-plan

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