According to the FBI, 250 active shooter incidents took place in the U.S. between 2000 and 2017. The highest number of incidents (30) and the highest number of casualties (729) occurred last year.
Of those incidents, most (42 percent) happened at places of business or commerce. The majority of incidents the FBI measured from 2000 to 2013 lasted five minutes or less. The average police response time can be from a few minutes to more than 10 minutes. Even when help arrives, the priority of first responders is to find and stop the shooter, not to protect bystanders. What does this mean? If you are on-site when a situation develops, your safety is in your hands.
Doing nothing is not an option for survival. The shooter already has a plan in mind. Instead, you must act and act quickly. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security outlines three options: Run. Hide. Fight.
If it is possible to escape, do it. Do not take time to gather your belongings. Do not stop to convince others to go with you. Help those you can, warn others to prevent them from entering the area, and—when safe to do so—call 911.
In a workplace setting, think ahead about what you would do in this situation. Where are the nearest exits? Do you know where they go? Are you able to access them quickly without having to locate and fumble with a lock and key? If doorways aren’t an option, what about windows? What plans are in place for helping those with special needs?
If it isn’t possible to run, the next best alternative is to hide. Avoid hiding in groups to make it more difficult for the shooter. Lock or block doors if possible. Close blinds and turn off lights. Activate a silent alarm, if the location is equipped with one. Find a place that is out of the shooter’s view and that provides protection if shots are fired. Stay quiet, and silence electronic devices, but quietly contact emergency responders, if possible.
Again, preplanning can save lives. How would you barricade doors that swing inward or secure doors that swing outward? How would you lock or block windows? What spaces would be hard for the shooter to see immediately? Be familiar with the surroundings and know how you could leverage the workspace to your advantage in an emergency.
Confronting an active shooter is the absolute last resort. You will literally be fighting for your life, so be aggressive. Use whatever you can as a weapon, whether it’s office furniture, scissors or a fire extinguisher. Yell. Try to distract and disarm the shooter.
Plan for Safety
Remember when you were in grade school and you participated in fire drills? Chances were relatively small that a fire would ever break out, but if it did, you knew what to do without thinking. You had done it before.
Similarly, businesses may want to consider conducting safety drills. Chances of an active shooter incident on-site are relatively small, but everyone should know the procedures and have an action plan in mind.
Additionally, workplaces can take steps to help prevent situations from developing. Having visible security cameras in place, locking exterior doors, and requiring a card swipe to access the building are just a few examples.
To discuss more ways to manage threats at your business site, contact your local Hylant risk control expert.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.