Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Chad Crittenden spoke at a special event July 13 on active shooter mitigation. No one thinks it will happen to them, but the reality is that it could happen to anyone at any time. The key to surviving this kind of situation is to be prepared. You have to have a plan in advance for what you would do and how you would respond. Seconds matter, and if you use valuable seconds processing what to do, it may be too late.
Changing Mindset is Important
- If you’re shot, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to die. You have to change your mindset from a victim to someone that will survive and win. To do so, you have to know the answers to these two questions:
- What am I willing to do to survive?
- What am I empowered to do?
- In an active shooter situation, you don’t have to wait for a leader to direct you. Anyone can be a leader and assess his/her options for survival.
What to do if an active shooter is onsite
There are several options, and you have to quickly assess which one will work for you in that current situation:
- Run. If you have a clear path to an exit, this is your best option. Moving targets are harder to hit, so get out of the building if you can, even if you have to make your own exit.
- Lockdown. This may be effective if the shooter is not in your building. If the shooter is in your building, you may be keeping others from getting out safely if you choose to lockdown. Evaluate this strategy carefully in advance of any incident.
- Hide. If you can’t get out of the building, hide. Secure the door. If it doesn’t look, put something in front of it. Turn off the lights. Silence your phone.
- Fight. This should be your last option and only when the fight comes to you. You have to be prepared to fight to win. When faced with an active shooter, this person is no longer your friend or co-worker. They are a sociopath, a murderer. The rules no longer apply to them or to you as you fight to survive.
- Be prepared with a weapon. Anything can be a weapon. Even throwing something at the shooter may distract them enough to give you seconds to escape or attack. The shooter doesn’t expect this and it causes confusion and for them to have to change their plan.
- If you are hiding with other employees, know that you may be able to overpower the shooter.
As you think about how you would react in your workplace, don’t assume you would be in your regular work area. You may be on break or in another area. Be familiar with all exits and paths in your workplace.
Following an active shooter situation, companies should have a plan to confirm who may have been injured or killed, but they may not want to have designated meeting place. If the shooter is an employee or former employee, he/she would know the designated meeting place and could have planned for an additional attack there.
Make sure you have emergency contact information available and accessible outside of the workplace, and that multiple people have access in case the designated contact is incapacitated or unavailable.
Following an incident, recovery can take some time. Where do you work if you can’t return to the building? How do you notify your customers, clients, vendors? Consider how you help your employees with recovery and getting back to work.
Finally, when you make your plan, make sure it fits your company and employees and that you are capable of implementing it quickly and easily. It shouldn’t be complicated, as you may only have seconds to put it into effect.
-- Recap courtesy of Carrie A. Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP