As Newton, Connecticut and the rest of the country recover from one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation’s history, the priority to develop preparedness initiatives related to active shooters and school safety becomes more critical than ever.
An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and other populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.
An active shooting event can occur at any time or any place. During the past several years, there have been active shooter incidents in malls, theaters in workplaces and in schools. An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
Most active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because most incidents are over within minutes, we must be prepared to deal with the situation until law enforcement personnel arrive.
And, preparedness and awareness are the keys to helping protect our employees, our customers, and ourselves.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers free online training on how to react to an active shooter in the workplace. The course is called Active Shooter: What You Can Do and is offered through FEMA's Independent Study program.
All employees can help prevent and prepare for potential active shooter situations. This course provides guidance to individuals, including managers and employees, so that they can prepare to respond to an active shooter situation.
This course is not written for law enforcement officers, but for non-law enforcement employees. The material may provide law enforcement officers information on recommended actions for non-law enforcement employees to take should they be confronted with an active shooter situation.
The course covers:
- Actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and responding law enforcement officials.
- Recognizing potential workplace violence indicators.
- Actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents.
- How to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident
According to the FEMA training, the keys to making it through an active shooter incident are Run, Hide, Fight. First, evacuate the area. If that is impossible, then hide in a safe place until law enforcement arrives. As a last resort, fight the shooter. These points are explained in greater detail in the training (see attached video).
Preparing an emergency action plan before the incident is also important. A good plan contains:
- A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies.
- An evacuation policy and procedure.
- Emergency escape procedures and route assignments (i.e., floor plans, safe areas).
- Contact information for—and responsibilities of—individuals to be contacted under the Emergency Action Plan.
- Information concerning local area hospitals (i.e., name, telephone number, and distance from your location).
- An emergency notification system to alert various parties of an emergency, including individuals at remote locations within premises, local law enforcement. local area hospitals.