Ask the Experts: Active Shooter Preparedness

Question: Are there resources available to employers to help them understand how to respond to an active shooter in the workplace?

Answer: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers an Active Shooter Preparedness page on their website with resources, a webinar, and links to posters and other information in regard to active shooter preparedness.

Unfortunately, we live in an environment that requires all employers to think about, prepare for, and take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all employees in active shooter or other emergency situations. Therefore, it is important for employers to offer employees both training and action plans. The DHS made the following key points in response to active shooter preparedness:

  • Ensure that all employees remain aware of the environments in which they work.
  • Employees should know where at least two of the nearest exits to the areas are located in relationship to where he or she works.
  • Employees should close and lock the doors and windows immediately if an active shooter appears at the work site.
  •  If the situation allows, employees may be trained to take necessary steps to incapacitate the shooter (tackle the shooter or otherwise attempt to incapacitate).
  • The advice is to run, hide, and as a last resort, fight.

Customers and clients will likely follow the lead of employees and managers, therefore employees should be properly trained on how to respond should such an event occur.

Employers are advised to create an Emergency Action Plan with assistance from local law enforcement authorities. The plan should include all of the following:

  • Preferred method of contacting 911.
  • Lockdown and evacuation plan.
  • Contact information for local hospitals.
  • Contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under the EAP.

In all cases, preparing and having a plan for an active shooter or other emergency will help both employees and managers better prepare for dealing with such a high-stress situation.