In a country already on edge with a pandemic, increased political tension and an increase in gun violence, recent gun violence incidents have prompted new questions and anxieties surrounding public safety.
Mass shootings, which can be defined as an attack where 3 or more people are killed by a firearm, are unpredictable, making it difficult for corporate spaces to adequately address gun-related risks, including the best practices for preparing and preventing these attacks.
The threat of gun violence has grown so much that schools, municipalities, and businesses are implementing their own active assailant response strategies and plans.
Assigning role-specific tasks for active shooter response plans
For careful planning and preparation to be successful, there needs to be a clear outline of who is responsible for what. Designate people within your organization for the following roles:
- Leadership: who is directing response efforts (typically the director of emergency management or crisis manager)?
- Training: who will be issuing mandatory training to help employees prepare for active shooter emergencies?
- Communication: who will oversee the mass communications software that sends out important alerts and updates?
- Reports: these employees will monitor reports from law enforcement, open-source intelligence as well as reports from the media.
- Security: those responsible for keeping the premises secure.
If your organization does not currently have a designated emergency manager or crisis manager, the human resources (HR) department may be equipped to handle response efforts.
Creating an active shooter plan
Implementing crucial safety measures is the best way to prepare for and prevent active shooter emergencies. Such a plan would train employees on what to be aware of and what red flags to report to management.
Training that teaches employees how to recognize potentially dangerous behavior, a practical reporting system for recording and reporting threats or intervention measures to respond to these emergencies should be included.
Identifying violent behavior
Nearly a quarter of all mass shootings in the last 60 years occur at the workplace, while 70% of active shooter incidents happen in the commerce/business or educational settings. Helping employees understand and identify pre-attack behavior patterns may help reduce these incidents from occurring.
- Mental health history
- Recently obtaining firearms, even if legally
- Aggression toward authority figures
- Interest in explosives or past mass shootings
- Traumatic life events
- Being bullied in the workplace
- Experiencing multiple stressors at once such as financial stress, abuse, or drug and alcohol abuse
Because reporting a coworker or suspicious activity can be a strenuous process, training employees on the warning signs of potential assailants is not enough. Companies must be able to implement a communications and reporting system that not only keeps information confidential but helps key stakeholders properly address these threats.
Employes should be conducting risk assessments to find notable vulnerabilities in the workplace. Employees must be protected from external threats. This could look like controlled access to buildings, security personnel, locks, badge-only entry, doors with alternate manual locks or solid non-glass external doors.
Creating and implementing an evacuation plan
The main priority during active shooter emergencies is to protect everyone from harm, including getting them as far away as possible from the assailant. Having an evacuation plan allows organizations to communicate with their employees and ensure well-informed preparation.
Identify evacuation routes or possible shelters
An evacuation plan needs to include a primary and secondary escape route. Active shooter emergencies are unpredictable, so having both helps provide an extra layer of safety.
When evacuation is not possible, employers should provide shelter locations on-site in the workplace, where employees can safely hide until the event is over. This could include locked conference rooms, closets or other secure locations and out of sight from main hallways and open spaces.
Communication with every employee
Response plans should not only include full-time employees but contractors, remote workers, temporary employees and guests. In addition, it is also important that companies plan to protect vulnerable populations who may require assistance with evacuating or sheltering-in-place.
However, reaching everyone at a moment’s notice can be tough. Without proper communication protocol and technology, it is difficult for emergency managers to check one employee, communicate action plans and update their organization with real-time alerts.
Relying on one form of communication puts employees at risk. There is always the chance that they can miss important alerts, putting their safety in jeopardy.
A multimodal communications platform would be able to notify employees via text, voice messaging, mobile apps, emails, social media and more to ensure the broadest and most effective distribution of information.
Active shooter drills and training
Nearly 25% of companies are unprepared for active shooter incidents, therefore policies, drills, and training that clearly outline what needs to be done in the event of such an emergency are crucial. Businesses should be conducting employee training at least twice a year and should be included in every new-hire training.
These bases should be covered during training:
- Lockdown and drills that match the size of your organization
- First aid training
- Implementing the Run, Hide, Fight hierarchy of response
- Methods of communication to reach first responders
- Mass communication software training to keep everyone informed of your organization’s action plan
Investing in active shooter insurance
Active shooter insurance, or active assailant coverage, could be a valuable asset for businesses to protect their company and employees against worst-case scenarios, especially in an era where gun violence is on the rise.
This type of insurance typically covers medical expenses and funeral costs for victims, along with the cost of property damage and loss of business. Active shooter insurance supplements, not replaces, current coverage such as general liability insurance.
What active shooter insurance covers
Many policies cover crisis management services, medical expense coverage and other potential supplements that are not always covered by general liability plans.
- Medical expenses: the coverage of medical bills, funeral expenses, death benefits, trauma support and psychiatric counseling for victims.
- Business interruption coverage: may help businesses recoup the financial loss or destruction of property, along with aiding in maintaining general business operations.
- Relocation, retraining and loss of attraction: can help employees relocate or retrain due to trauma as well as assist businesses with revenue gaps due to stigmatization.
Protecting your employees with timely communication
Businesses must find ways to mitigate the risk of active shooters for employees. Being prepared can prevent disastrous events and protect the safety of employees. To make planning useful, efficient communication is a must.
Technology such as a mass notification system can help businesses take a proactive approach to corporate safety, active shooter prevention and response. Inform employees of potential risks and keep them in the loop as the situation develops.
Such a system can also equip employees with the proper resources for when active shooter emergencies occur, inform them of who to contact and what the best evacuation or shelter-in-place procedures are.
When seconds count, reach your employees in an instant. Learn more about how Rave Mobile Safety can help your business protect its employees here.