Responding to an Active Shooter Situation Part 2

This is the second of two parts on the topic of responding to an active shooter situation.

Last time we discussed whether to flee, hide or fight during an active shooter situation. Today we’ll look at what to do when help arrives, worker warning signs and an ounce of prevention.

When Help Arrives

The first officers on the scene will not stop to help the injured. Their objective is to stop the shooter as soon as possible.

Officers may be wearing regular patrol uniforms or tactical gear. They will be heavily armed. They may shout commands and push individuals to the ground for their safety. Remain calm and follow officers’ instructions.

Put down any objects you were carrying, such as coats or bags. Raise your hands, fingers spread wide, and keep them visible at all times. Make no sudden moves toward the officers such as grabbing them for safety.

Avoid pointing or yelling. Don’t ask for directions or help. If officers leave your area, head in the direction from which they came.

These first responders will be followed by rescue teams of additional officers and emergency medical technicians who will treat and move the injured. They may call upon able-bodied individuals to help move the wounded from the scene.

Once you are in a safe place, you will likely be held there until the situation is under control and witnesses have been identified and interviewed. Stay on the scene until you have been cleared to leave by authorities.

Worker Warning Signs

An active shooter in the workplace may be a current or former employee or their acquaintances. Employees don’t usually “snap,” but often display indications that an intuitive manager may notice.

Once recognized, these signs can be managed or treated. The company’s human resources department should be alerted to coworkers exhibiting potentially violent behavior, including:

  • Signs of increased alcohol or drug use
  • An increase in unexplained absences
  • Domestic conflicts spilling into the workplace
  • Resisting and overreacting to changes in workplace policies and procedures
  • Unprovoked outbursts of anger and other extreme emotional responses
  • Increased talk of problems at home
  • Depression, withdrawal and mood swings
  • Empathy with individuals committing violence
  • Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms and violent crimes.

An Ounce of Prevention

Urge officials at your workplace to prepare staff for an active shooter situation by drafting an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and conducting training exercises.

Bring in the expertise of the human resources and training departments, facility owners/operators, property managers and local law enforcement. Together you can create an EAP with evacuation procedures, escape routes, floor plans, safe areas and emergency contact information.

Local law enforcement is a valuable resource to help design and participate in a mock active shooter training exercise. A well designed drill will help staff recognize the sound of gunshots in the building, react quickly to evacuate or hide, call 911 and respond appropriately when officers arrive.

Understanding these principles could one day make the difference in someone’s life… such as yours.


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