In this session at the PRIMA 2016 Annual Conference, Regan Rychetsky, ABCP, Director of Enterprise Risk Management and Safety at Texas Health and Human Services Commission, explored effective preparation and response strategies that can be used with active shooter situations.
An active shooter acts spontaneously, with little or no warning. The perpetrators are often depressed, angry and suicidal. Their motive is to punish others and negotiations will not work. They are there to kill and be killed. They are not there to come out alive. In addition, the more media coverage that these events receive, the more sensationalized this becomes for potential future active shooters.
Active shooter events can impact any business and the shooter can be anyone from current or former customers, employees, partners of an employee, mentally-unstable and/or anti-government individuals. According to the FBI, 160 active shooter incidents have occurred between 2000-2013, with 486 people killed and 557 wounded. 60% of incidents ended before police arrived, with the average duration under five minutes.
Under stress, we default to our level of training. “Run, Hide, Fight” is a common training method. Evacuation is always the best option, if possible. If employees can’t get out safely, the next option is to find a place to hide. As a last resort, employees should improvise weapons and fight to commit to taking the shooter down no matter what. These are the three key ways to surviving an active shooter situation, however, people need to know where to run, where to hide and how to fight.
- Identify exits, identify offices/rooms to hide, conceal and cover. Must mentally rehearse and have a survivor mindset.
- Have an escape route to avoid the perpetrator. Leave belongings behind and help others, if possible, but don’t refuse to leave because others won’t.
- Keep your empty hands visible for law enforcement and cooperate with them.
- Get out of the active shooter’s view.
- Take cover/protection from shots fired.
- Do not restrict your options for movement.
- Prevent an active shooter from entering – lock the door or blockade it and turn off the lights.
- Silence your cell phone, including vibrate.
- Remain quiet and calm and evaluate escape routes, like windows.
- Only fight if you are imminent danger. This is a last resort.
- Act aggressively. Improvise weapons and throw items.
- Attempt to incapacitate the shooter and grab the weapon.
- Commit to your actions. Use any means necessary to neutralize the active shooter. Fight like your life depends on it.