Active Shooters – How to Respond
As incidents of Active Shooters and other violence fill our news cycles, we often find ourselves asking…Could it happen in my workplace?….or could it happen in a random place where I might find myself?
Whether you work in an office or an outdoor environment, or you find yourself frequenting public events, or you are simply shopping or taking a stroll, the thought of being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be frightening. This is especially so when you, your family or your co-workers are not prepared for emergency situations like Active Shooter events.
At Baldwin Krystyn Sherman, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been injured or victimized by mass shootings and other types of violence. We are also thankful for our first responders and courageous citizens who step up during times of crisis and help others in need without thought for themselves. As the days and weeks go by after the most recent Las Vegas tragedy, we hope that the primary focus of our future efforts is placed on how we can prevent and prepare for these events, rather than on the shooter or his motives. As risk management professionals we are passionate and determined to help our clients, colleagues, friends and family find ways to mitigate exposure and loss by developing loss control programs and providing information and materials that will help all of us be prepared to face crisis. As a first step, every individual and organization should familiarize themselves with the tips we have provided below. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has a wealth of preparedness information on their Active Shooter website, including an Active Shooter Booklet. You can access both via the following links.
Active Shooters – Being Prepared
- Try to be alert and aware of your environment. Take note of suspicious activity or persons in the area. Don’t be afraid of reporting this activity to police!
- Identify the nearest exits to you and/or potential places to conceal yourself.
- Be aware of the following potential warning signs with friends, family, and co-workers:
- Increasingly erratic, unsafe, or aggressive behaviors.
- Hostile feelings of injustice or perceived wrongdoing.
- Drug and alcohol abuse.
- Marginalization or distancing from friends and colleagues.
- Changes in performance at work.
- Sudden and dramatic changes in home life or in personality.
- Financial difficulties.
- Pending civil or criminal litigation.
- Observable grievances with threats and plans of retribution.
- If you are concerned about someone, contact your supervisor, human resources manager, family member and notify them of the behavior and your concern.
- In cases where behavior escalates or becomes violent, do not hesitate to call 911 or contact local law enforcement.
Active Shooters – How to Respond
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 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 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) and not restrict your options for movement
To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
- Lock the door, blockade the door with heavy furniture
HOW TO RESPOND WHEN AN ACTIVE SHOOTER IS IN YOUR VICINITY
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), remain quiet
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
- Remain calm, if possible dial 911 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, yelling, committing to your actions (do not hesitate if you decide to fight!!)