Active shooter — Just like any other risk. Really?
Oh boy. Where am I going with this blog with a title like that?
Well, in July, we hosted a seminar called “Aiming for Safety — Active Shooter” in West Des Moines. About 60 people attended the event, which was presented by Scott Smith, MPA, CSP, a Loss Control Representative with Iowa Municipalities Workers Compensation Association.
We promoted the event to state and local media outlets because we truly wanted to get the word out on this very important (albeit scary) topic. A few attended and filmed footage and/or asked for brief interviews. I was called upon to be the Holmes Murphy spokesperson. My daughters recorded each possible local news that day in case I would appear, in which I did. After getting over how TV can add 15 years to your age and the lighting can make your disappearing hair even thinner, I noticed something I was shown saying in one interview.
We often hear celebrities mention being “misquoted.” To a degree, I felt that was the case when the edited few moments of my comments had me declaring an active shooter was “…just like any other risk.”
Clearly, an active shooter event is not quite the same thing as driving while texting, fire prevention, or ensuring safe walkways for patrons. What I had went on to say was that we viewed this as “any other risk” in that businesses need to be educated and prepared. We do believe that to be true as a few of our goals at Holmes Murphy are to provide peace of mind, consulting, and education to our clients on how to be prepared.
As Scott Smith shared with the group, we all prepare for events which likely will never occur yet could be catastrophic if they did. Think of fire drills and tornado drills. Being prepared for an active shooter scenario should be no different.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that 4,679 occupational fatalities occurred by a major event in 2014 in the U.S. Roadway incidents were the most common at nearly 25 percent. Homicides accounted for 9 percent. Of multi-fatality incidents, roadway incidents once again was the main factor. Homicides made up 10 percent of these events.
But with this said, employees should always be alert and pay attention to their surroundings. Some suggestions presented include:
- Don’t ignore situations that seem to be “off” or “strange.” Many times shooters scout their targeted areas beforehand.
- Educate all employees, especially those closest to entrances, on what to look for and do in such an event.
- Create a Crisis Response and Management Plan to include an active shooter event.
One of the many unfortunate active shooter events to have left a lasting impression around the country was the Virginia Tech shootings. Likely the largest lesson learned from that event was that any action is better than no action at all. Opinions can differ, but Smith and others highly encourage the philosophy of “Fight or Flight.” Along these lines, in the event such a situation does occur, Scott suggests employees:
- Alert and inform others but save yourself first.
- Evacuate if at all possible. Shooters rarely chase.
- Get the intruder off of their plan of attack.
- If you can’t evacuate, barricade yourself against the intruder.
- If approached, counter aggression through distraction and return the aggression.
The bottom line to all of this is to change the rules of the game on the intruder — especially in preplanned events by a shooter. Any change or distraction can easily get them off course. Unless specifically targeting someone, any delay will send the attacker somewhere else.
Lastly, while these active shooter events unfortunately garner quite a bit of attention, employees have a much higher likelihood of being struck by lightning or drowning in a pool. In other words, don’t obsess over this topic. However, “like any other risk,” be educated and prepared. And, like always, let us know how Holmes Murphy can help. You can comment below or reach out directly!
Published on: 09.01.16