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More Active Shooter Preparation Tips

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

BodyguardThe recent active shooter tragedy in Isla Vista – the cold-blooded murder of two women, four men and the maiming of 13 others by a gunman who said he acted out of bitterness caused by years of rejection, has become menacingly common of late. Recent tragedies such as the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage, and the murder of employees at the Washington Navy Yard in D.C. have made preparation for active shooting incidents mandatory for everyone. So, although we’ve covered active shooting in previous blog posts, we wanted to delve a little more deeply into the subject with this week’s offering.

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 firearm(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.

How to respond when an Active Shooter 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.

  1. Run

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.
  1. Hide

If evacuation is not possible, nd a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to nd you. Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s 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.

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.

When it is safe to do so, Call 911!

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)
  • Remain quiet

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:

  • Remain calm.
  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location.
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
  1.  Fight

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
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

How to respond when law enforcement arrives:

The purpose of law enforcement 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.
  • Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets and other tactical equipment.
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, and hand guns.
  • 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 holding 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 operator:

  • 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 until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

Use the following worksheet to make sure you have easy access to any information you might need in the event of an active shooter incident or another type of emergency:

Emergency Numbers

Emergency Services: 911

Local Emergency Information Line: _____________________________________

Local Police Department: ____________________________________________

Local Hospital: ___________________________________________________

Local FBI Field Office: ______________________________________________

Facility Security: __________________________________________________

Facility Address: __________________________________________________

Floor: __________________________________________________________

Suite/Room: _____________________________________________________

Office #: ________________________________________________________

Ext. ___________________________________________________________

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Lessons Learned from the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Friday, December 21st, 2012

America collectively mourns the violent deaths of 20 children and 6 adults whose lives were lost to a crazed madman who gained entry and opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. As policymakers prepare to adequately and swiftly respond, educators, parents and emergency management professionals across the country wonder what can be done to make schools safe.

A recent article in the Huffington Post summarized the dilemma:
“Short of placing an iron dome over our school buildings or turning them into police bunkers, the only thing we can do is create spaces for children that are as safe and supportive as possible. And so while it is encouraging that national policymakers are intent on addressing the larger aspects of American culture that make acts of mass violence like this all too common, the only things individual schools and communities can do are the sorts of things Sandy Hook had already done: establish clear safety protocols, lock their doors once the school day begins, and be vigilant in their efforts to keep children safe.”

Although, at this point, more questions remain than can be accurately addressed, schools and businesses alike should take stock and examine their own emergency plans and strategize about how they would respond — not only during active shooting incidences — but also before, during and after other potential emergency situations.

In a blog posted in EmergencyManagement.com, Editor Jim McKay shared this observation:

“The chilling fact is it’s happened before and it will happen again. One danger here is that we always prepare for the last crisis, so we are all preparing for Hurricane Sandy and the Newtown, Conn., massacre. Both are devastating, but employers have to prepare for all hazards — bomb threats, suspicious packages, bullying at work and bullying at school are examples.”

Training over 400 million square feet, the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services provides easily-accessible emergency preparedness to tenants with online safety modules about fires; earthquakes; bomb threats; emergency action plan procedures such as floor warden training; medical emergencies; power outages; nuclear, biological, chemical and hazardous material incidents; and severe weather such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.

Emergency Management.com reports that “for every one organization that is well planned and trained and exercised, there are 10 that are not. Every employee has a legal right to review their employers’ emergency plan (according to) federal law.”

Most pundits agree the problem can be attributed to failure to practice. Unfortunately, most businesses, including schools, come up with some sort of an Emergency Action Plan because of OSHA regulations. But many foolishly assume they won’t ever have to execute the plan. So they fail to run drills.

Research has proven that tabletop exercises and full-scale exercises done with and without emergency services are effective preparatory tools. So the best thing you can do as a business owner, building manager, administrator of a school, lead at a governmental agency or a parent is to make sure everyone under your care understands the plan and regularly participates in emergency exercises.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, check out the Allied Universal Training System by Universal/Fire Life Safety Services. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system on the market.