Creating a safer environment to live, work, and play.
On September 19th, the Daily Herald hosted a Community Forum that gave our community an opportunity to come together and discuss a topic of extreme importance and relevance to all of us; workplace violence and active shooter situations. We all want to create a safer environment to live, work, and play.
The speakers discussed how active shooter training has evolved, and where it stands today. Using our schools as an example, prior to the rigorous and systematic active shooter training they do now, teachers were not able to lock their classroom door because they did not have their classroom key on their person or immediately accessible; teachers and staff were advised to use code words or phrases rather than plain language when notifying people in the school of an active threat; and written plans dictated that prior to a staff member initiating a lockdown due to an active threat, the principal must be contacted. We refer to this situation as the Red Binder Syndrome. It means that the decision makers have a written crisis plan, but it won’t work. They don’t know it won’t work because they have never practiced it. Unfortunately, many businesses suffer from the Red Binder Syndrome, or, they still have no crisis plan at all.
It was important that community members left the Forum with takeaways and information they can use to help build their crisis plan:
Business leaders must provide their employees with in-person training on this topic, followed by in-person training exercises, at least annually. We must plan and practice what to do when an active shooter or other dangerous intruder is able to pass through our security barriers and enter our office or building, because a motivated intruder can pass through almost any level of security.
During an active shooter situation, we will hear noise and feel fear, and even experience initial disbelief and denial. Training provides the means to regain your composure, recall at least some of what you have learned, and commit to action. Athletes and musicians refer to this as muscle memory. Repetition in training and preparedness shortens the time it takes to orient, observe, act, and decide.
With an active shooter situation, evacuation is always the first and best option to consider. If you can get out, do so immediately. But sometimes it is not possible or safe, and we have to consider hiding, or going into a “lockdown.” This requires lots of pre-planning that cannot be done during the attack; Do you have a workspace that you can secure and be hidden from view on a moment’s notice?
Large commercial spaces and multi-level facilities must create a communication system that can be used to immediately notify employees that there is an active threat in the building. Without a notification system, many people in the building won’t even know what is happening.
The appropriate person in the organization responsible for crisis management and setting up training must be a supervisor or administrator. Otherwise, many employees will not engage fully in the process.
Employers and employees must create a culture of reporting concerning threats made by co-workers. Similar to making a joke about a bomb in an airport, joking about violence or threatening violence is no longer acceptable in our workplace.
Be Prepared. Be Confident.