Do you know what to do if someone starts shooting at your place of business? How do you prepare for an active shooter so that you can up your chances of survival?
*** Personal Security and Safety Alert***
Due to recent events with the shooting tragedy in Colorado. I have put together some personal security and safety tips from various law enforcement agencies and how to respond to a active shooting incident or emergency.
Police departments do not have to wait until bullets are flying and people are dying to stop the active shooter. Sometimes, officers are able to step between the shooter and his intended victims long before the screaming and bleeding begins. There are five phases of this type of incident.
1. Fantasy stage
2. Planning stage
3. Preparation stage
4. Approach stage
5. Implementation stage
Initially, the shooter only dreams of the shooting. He fantasizes about the headlines and the news coverage hell receive. He pictures breaking the death count record of the previous active shooter, and going out in a blaze of glory. He may draw pictures of the event, make Web postings and even discuss these desires with friends and foes alike. If these fantasies are passed on to law enforcement, police intervention can take place prior to the suspects attack. In this case, there may even be zero casualties.
The suspect is still a potential active shooter at this stage. He is determining logistics the who, what, when, where and how of the infamous day. He may put plans down in writing and will often discuss these plans with others. A time and location will be decided upon one that will ensure the greatest number of victims or, in some cases, target specific individuals. The potential shooter will determine the weapons needed and how they will be obtained. He will decide how to travel to the target location and how to dress to conceal his weapons without arousing suspicion. If the police are tipped off at this time, intervention may be made with zero casualties.
A law enforcement agency can still intervene during the preparation stage. The suspect may be obtaining gun powder or other chemicals for his improvised explosive devices. He might break into a house to steal weapons and ammunition and/or hide them away in a designated place closer to where he plans to attack. He may also do a practice run or walkthrough of the operation, gearing himself up for the assault. Potential shooters have been known to call friends and tell them not to go to school or work on a certain day, in order to keep them out of the line-of-fire. If one of these people informs police of their concerns, there is another opportunity for law enforcement to intervene before the event. If this is the case, there is a real possibility that there may be zero casualties.
The closer the time to the planned event, the more dangerous it will be. By the approach stage, the suspect has made his plans and has committed himself to carry out the act. At this point, he is actually moving toward the intended target and will most likely be carrying the tools that hell use for the massacre.
Officers may come into contact with the suspect at this stage because of a citizen complaint, a traffic stop or something similar. A thorough investigation can lead to an arrest of the suspect before he brings down a multitude of innocent people in a shooting or bombing. However dangerous the stop, an alert and armed officer has a final chance to intervene if he is prepared and aware during every street contact. This contact could become a lifesaver and may end in zero casualties.
The implementation stage
Once the shooter opens fire, immediate action must be taken. Initial responding officers need to immediately proceed to the suspect and stop the threat. If he is not stopped, the active shooter will continue to kill until he runs out of victims or ammunition. Remember, the active shooter is unique because he is going for the top score, or the highest number of kills on record for an active shooter incident. It is almost like a bizarre video game, except its real.
The sooner someone anyone effectively intervenes through an act of courage, the fewer funerals will result. In past incidents, active shooters have been thwarted by police officers, security guards and school teachers. In October 2006, Principal John Klang of Weston High School in Cazenovia, Wis., died wrestling an armed 15 year-old student to the floor. Klang saved every life in the school except his own.
PROFILE OF AN ACTIVE SHOOTER
An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.
Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
Good practices for coping with an active shooter situation
· Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
· Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit
· If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door
· If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door
· As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at
close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.
· CALL 911 WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO!
HOW TO RESPOND WHEN AN ACTIVESHOOTER IS IN YOUR VICINITY
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 your 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
2. Hide out
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.
Your hiding place should:
Be out of the active shooters view
Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
Not trap you or restrict your options for movement To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
Lock the door
Blockade the door with heavy furniture
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)
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooters location
If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
3. Take action against the active shooter
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
Committing to your actions
HOW TO RESPOND WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT ARRIVES
Law enforcements purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4)
Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety
How to react when law enforcement arrives:
Remain calm, and follow officers instructions
Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
Keep hands visible at all times
Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operators:
Location of the active shooter
Number of shooters, if more than one
Physical description of shooter/s
Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
Number of potential victims at the location
The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.
Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave the safe location or assembly point until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.
Additional Ways to Prepare For and Prevent an Active Shooter Situation
– Ensure that your facility has at least two evacuation routes
– Post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout your facility – Include local law enforcement and first responders during training exercises
– Encourage law enforcement, emergency responders, SWAT teams, K-9 teams, and bomb squads to train for an active shooter scenario at your location
– Foster a respectful workplace
– Be aware of indications of workplace violence and take remedial actions accordingly
ING POTENTIAL WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
An active shooter in your workplace may be a current or former employee, or an acquaintance of a current or former employee. Intuitive managers and coworkers
may notice characteristics of potentially violent behavior in an employee. Alert your Human Resources Department or Safety Manager if you believe an employee or coworker exhibits potentially violent behavior.
Indicators of Potential Violence by an Employee or Customer
Employees or Customers typically do not just snap, but display indicators of potentially violent behavior over time. If these behaviors are recognized, they can often be managed and treated. Potentially violent behaviors by an employee may include one or more of the following (this list of behaviors is not comprehensive, nor is it intended as a mechanism for diagnosing violent tendencies):
Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
Unexplained increase in absenteeism; vague physical complaints
Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene
Depression / withdrawal
Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures
Repeated violations of company policies
Increased severe mood swings
Noticeably unstable, emotional responses
Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
Suicidal; comments about putting things in order
Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (everybody is against me)
Increasingly talks of problems at home
Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace; talk of severe financial problems
Talk of previous incidents of violence
Empathy with individuals committing violence
Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and violent crimes
MANAGING THE CONSEQUENCES OF AN ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATION
After the active shooter has been incapacitated and is no longer a threat, human resources and/or management should engage in post-event assessments and activities,
An accounting of all individuals at a designated assembly point to determine who, if anyone, is missing and potentially injured
Determining a method for notifying families of individuals affected by the active shooter, including notification of any casualties
Assessing the psychological state of individuals at the scene, and referring them to health care specialists EAP accordingly
Identifying and filling any critical personnel or operational gaps left in the organization as a result of the active shooter
Awareness is one of the best defenses against any active shooter. No matter if you are at work, the movies, schools or shopping malls. Always raise your awareness it can truly save a life, that life maybe yours.
Ken Oswald for this timely and important safety reminder.