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What should you be doing to prepare for an active shooter?

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Check these six metrics and tasks to stay on top of your organization’s safety

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This is usually a zero-tolerance policy. These policies allow employers or organizations to remove people from the premises. This includes on-site security and by calling the police.

How to establish a workplace violence policy: Set written standards for verbal threats, physical threats, and online threats.

Workers who deal with the exchange of cash, working night shifts, in areas of high crime rates, and where alcohol, tobacco, or firearms are sold are at higher risks. Consider policies that protect them and their jobs from customer abuse.

If there are other organizations in your area, consider teaming up with them to share policies. This works well for schools, churches, and nonprofits. Private businesses may consider sharing their plans, too.

OSHA has more here https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/.

Example: A regional convenience store and gas station chain establishes a zero-tolerance workplace violence policy. The policy prohibits threatening, attacking, or touching other employees. It prohibits the kind of clothing, equipment, and tools that are not allowed on work premises. It also establishes policies for when front-line tellers are allowed to ask customers to leave, when to call the police, how to trip alarms, and when to get aggressive with customers. This protects the employees, the employer, and their legal interests.



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In an emergency, there is too much information for humans to act on it accurately. This is why pilots, surgeons, and other technicians rely on checklists like an EAP. For pilots, “fly the plane” is always at the top of the list. Your checklist should be actionable, short, but thorough.

How to create an Emergency Action Plan: Everyone’s EAP is going to be different. But for most organizations you should, at a minimum:

  • Indicate the person primarily responsible for reporting fires, security, and medical emergencies.
  • Detail evacuation procedures that allow employees to practice later.
  • Mission-critical employees, like those required to operate dangerous machinery, need identified.
  • If any on-site employees have a medical or safety response duty, identify them and keep their contact information close. This is common if off-duty or trained first responders are close.
  • Names of job titles, people, and contact information responsible for making decisions and getting information to the press, families, colleagues, and emergency personnel.

OSHA has an online tool that lets asks many of the right questions in 10-15 minutes.

Example: A mid-size church creates an Emergency Action Plan that details fire, shooter, and medical protocols. It specifies where congregant emergency contact details are stored. It describes where information on staff and leadership are stored and who has access. It also details who in the Church who has emergency training, including a police officer and a volunteer firefighter. The church shares this with all of their members and updates it quarterly.



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Employees in most organizations will not read the policies and procedures you put together here. It’s imperative you do so for when you need them — you will be glad you did. But your employees or members will need to be trained.

How to train your employees: For new policies, you may consider online training in large organizations, or small group and individual instruction for smaller organizations. Your training should regularly be offered, incorporated into your orientation for new members, and be appropriate for your work.

For instance, a rural factory with 50 employees may train as a group once a year. A large urban university may train key staff quarterly.

How to train your employees for active shooter situations:

  • Establish a process that details how you will deliver information.
  • You may also consider Vantage Point as an option for providing training.
  • Ask and quiz your employees on various “What if” scenarios.
  • Conduct regular drills — planned and surprise.
  • Identify signage that helps employees in an emergency.
  • Test equipment and train employees with reminders on how to use radios, software, or even defense systems.

Example: An industrial warehouse establishes a new training protocol for all current and new employees. The training is delivered in groups of 10, by department, annually. Employees are trained how to use their equipment in an active shooter situation. This includes silencing their phones’ ringers and vibrators. The training also shows workers how to exit the building, where to safely gather, and what code words to use over their PA and radio system. It also details when to go into radio silence and under what circumstances to violate that silence.



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Run, Hide, Fight. Active shooter situations are usually random, target mostly random people, and typically last as long as it takes the police to neutralize the threat. Your organization should conduct drills that reiterate their training and put it into practice.

How to conduct active shooter drills: Vantage Point can offer exercises to teams of any size. We can do these at your location and on your schedule. This is the best way to secure your colleagues.

Absent that, employers of a large size may be able to solicit training help from their local police department. And absent that, you should trigger a drill and time your team’s response. Have staff that are efficiently and safely identifiable test employees on their efficiency and movement. Train them to:

  1. Run if possible.
  2. Hide using whatever means necessary and equipment available to shield them.
  3. Fight an offender, but only in extreme circumstances where there are no other options.

Example: A downtown office tower triggers a drill annually. They use Vantage Point staff with disabled safety firearms to simulate a real situation. Uniformed officers sweep the building as part of their training. This reminds staff that first responders are there to neutralize threats, not to treat the injured. This also prepares staff to follow their orders. Staff are also taught where good hiding places are, how to secure rooms without locks — like bathrooms — and how to report their locations via 911.



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Information goes out of date. Employees leave and staff change titles. Keep this information updated by reviewing your plans and procedures at least once a year.

How to perform a safety and security audit: Use this checklist to ask yourself these fundamental questions. This applies to most every organization:

  • Are employee records and files in a safe location?
  • Are our records up to date with new staff, titles, and contact information?
  • Has our building changed? Do our locks, exits, alarms, and software all still work?
  • Is there information our local police should know about?
  • When have we last conducted a drill? What was the response time for that drill?
  • Have records of terminated, retired, and those no longer employed been accurately handled?
  • Do we have new neighbors in our suite, floor, or building who might be able to help us or should be involved?
  • Have we consulted a professional about our policies and procedures?
  • Are there staff members we think might pose a threat?

Example: A retailer in a busy shopping district conducts a safety and security audit. They find three former employees with badges that still work. Keys to the back door were found to be missing and need to be recovered or replaced. A change in security system providers means the alarm codes and safe words written down need updated. And a review of employee records shows several staff with out of date emergency contact files. New neighbors at the restaurant next door will be approached to talk about their response to an active shooter and what warnings we’ll use to notify each other.



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An active shooter situation is unfortunate enough. It’s important to make sure you have the minds and health of your employees after the attack in mind.

How to develop a plan for after an attack:

  • Contact your insurance provider for policy information on lost wages and life insurance.
  • Know which mental health providers you’ll call to offer counseling, if any, to staff.
  • Know the names of contractors you may need to call to repair damage to windows, doors, locks, and other equipment.
  • You may need to change all of your passwords, logins, alarm codes, and locks after an attack. Know who is responsible, who to call in your area for these services, and who you will inform afterward.
  • Know who should talk to the press and what statement you will likely offer in the event of an attack.

Example: A small daycare operator was attacked at night when no children were present. Even though no one was hurt, they knew who to call in town for a locksmith, computer technician, and window repair. Because of their quick response, they were able to reopen in under a week and only filed an insurance claim for lost wages that lasted just a day.



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