Active Shooter Plan for Businesses - The 7 Things You Need to Know
Fire, earthquakes, bomb threats, natural disasters - most businesses know exactly what to do when it comes to these.
Yet when it comes to active shooters, too many are still clueless.
And that’s a BIG problem.
It’s a big problem because even though the covid 19 lockdowns kept most people at home, we’re still seeing more mass shootings than last year!
And if you thought mass shootings were only for schools, think again.
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education reports that workplaces are the third most common target for active shooter incidents.
And that is followed closely by stores and entertainment venues (such as movie theaters).
That’s why you should create an active shooter plan for your workplace right away.
Don’t know how?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’re going to look at the 7 things you NEED to know about active shooter planning for businesses.
Plus, you’ll get a checklist on how businesses can prepare for an active shooter.
Let’s dive in.
Having an Active Shooter Plan is NOT an Option
Just because active shooter training isn’t required by law doesn’t mean you can pass.
Active shooter incidents can happen anytime, anywhere.
Remember the Walmart shooting in El Paso?
Who would have ever expected an active shooter at a Walmart?
And it’s not only public spaces either.
Back in February, an employee walked straight into his workplace and killed 5 of his workmates.
These show us that it is impossible to tell when or where an active shooter incident will take place.
That’s why you NEED to have a plan.
Once the first shot goes off, most people go into panic mode.
And when panic sets in, they’ll either:
- Do something stupid that’ll get them killed.
- Follow a safety routine that’s drilled into their system thanks to training and practice.
You don’t need us telling you which is better.
That’s why whether you have an office or a retail store in a mall, you NEED an active shooter plan.
With the unpredictability of active shootings and the rise of cases in workplaces, this is NOT an option anymore.
You Don’t Have to Stop Operations if There’s a Shooting Nearby (But you Shouldn’t Let Anybody In)
When there’s an active shooter nearby, you should be on high alert.
The LAST thing you want is for them to target your business next.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, there is no pattern on how gunmen choose their victims. If they can walk into your office and start shooting people, they will.
That’s why whenever there’s an active shooter incident in your vicinity, you should go into non-emergency lockdown. (Note: if the gunman is in the same building as you are, that is already an emergency.)
Non-Emergency Lockdown Plan for Businesses
The moment you hear of the danger, you should IMMEDIATELY lock all entrances.
If you have a fence, lock that up.
If you have an outward swinging door, barricade it.
Do everything you can to prevent the shooter from getting in.
Unless they’re targeting someone specific in your office, they won’t break in if you make it difficult (or they won’t be able to break in at all!).
With all that done, you can go back to business as usual.
Yes, you should be on high alert. But going back to normal operations can help ease the stress and anxiety of the people inside.
Besides, with all entrances secured, the chances of the shooter coming in are minimal.
As long as people don’t go in or out, you should be safe.
While on non-emergency lockdown, it’s essential to communicate with law enforcement and your employees.
Let the police know you’re on non-emergency lockdown, and ask them to inform you once the danger is clear.
It’s also important to keep your employees updated.
Don’t let anyone panic when there’s no need. Keep everybody calm by giving any updates on the situation.
- Lock and barricade all entrances when there is a shooter nearby.
- Inside, continue operations to reduce anxiety.
- Communicate with law enforcement to know when the danger is clear.
- Keep everyone updated on the situation.
- Don’t allow people to come in or go out.
If The Shooter is On-Site, Alert Everyone IMMEDIATELY
There are no gunman alarms like there are fire alarms.
Yes, most people know what a gunshot sounds like. And most people will know what is going on the moment they hear one.
But if you’re in a big building, many people may be unaware of the danger.
That’s why you should announce the threat IMMEDIATELY.
If you have an intercom system, you can alert everyone through that. If not, Security Magazine recommends implementing mass notification tools.
Getting the word out as quickly as possible is challenging. But with careful planning, it can be done.
Also, it’s critical to alert law enforcement right away.
Every second is precious when people’s lives are at stake. The sooner the law enforcement arrives, the better.
Most shooting incidents only last 10-19 minutes.
But if the police aren’t alerted, and if people are oblivious to the danger - the shooter will have all the time in the world to take more lives.
- Alert authorities IMMEDIATELY when there is a shooter on your premises.
- Alert everyone in the building IMMEDIATELY that there is an active shooter.
The FBI Says Running From the Shooter is Your Best Option (But Don’t Just Run Anywhere!)
Run. Hide. Fight.
Remember those three words.
Those three words can save your life.
That’s why you should engrain them into your and your employees’ brains. Do Run-Hide-Fight training drills over and over again until it sticks.
What does Run-Hide-Fight mean, you ask?
The FBI uses this term to help people remember what to do in an active shooter situation.
According to the FBI, running away from the gunman should always be your first reaction.
If the gunman is in the same room as you are, get away from there!
However, just because Run comes first doesn’t mean you should run blindly.
If you don’t know where the gunman is, don’t just make a charge for the exit. Chances are, that’s where the danger is.
In your active shooter training and drills, make sure everyone knows where the emergency exits are. This way, they can run here if they’re SURE the shooter won’t see them.
NEVER expose yourself to the line of fire. If there’s a risk of being seen, it’s best to skip the running and hide instead.
Yes, getting away from the gunman is your best chance of survival. But remember, run AWAY from the shooter - don’t just run anywhere.
- Getting away from the shooter is your best chance of survival.
- If the shooter is in the room, run away immediately.
- If the shooter is in another room, DO NOT run blindly towards the exit.
- NEVER expose yourself to the shooter
- Make sure all employees know where the emergency exits are.
Note: You may also want to keep the word “ALICE” in mind. ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) is another term used to help you remember what to do when there is an active shooter threat.
Door Locks Won’t Save You When Hiding
Let’s say there are no safe exits… what should you do?
The answer, of course, is to hide.
Unless you’re sure you have a safe exit, the DHS recommends hiding in an office.
If you’re already in an office, stay there. If you’re in a hallway, get in an office to hide.
Most active shooting events are over within 10-19 minutes. If you hide well, the shooter won’t have enough time to find you.
But here’s the catch:
You can pretend no one is in the room by locking the door, turning off the lights, silencing your phones, and turning off anything that makes noise.
However, don’t rely on these.
Most office doors are not built to withstand heavy blows. All it takes is one kick to break the lock of these doors.
That’s why to be safe in hiding, you’ll have to either:
- Pile tables, desks, chairs, and other big items to barricade the door.
- Get a door security bar.
People without a door security bar MUST barricade their door with large items.
Yes, it may make noise as they drag it (which is never ideal), but it’s better than relying on a weak lock to keep the shooter out.
Unless the shooter has a specific target, they won’t bother breaking down a door that doesn’t budge.
The problem with stacking furniture on a door is that it takes time and makes noise.
In an active shooter scenario, every second counts.
That’s why getting a door security bar, such as the Rampart, is a much better option.
Having the Rampart in your office can save your life.
No matter how hard the shooter outside kicks your office door, it won’t give.
But the best part is that with the Rampart, you can secure your door in seconds!
All you have to do is slip the hook under the handle and seal the base to the floor by kicking. Plus, you can secure your door without making any noise at all.
Don’t take chances when you’re hiding.
NEVER trust the locks of your doors. Instead, barricade the door with furniture or secure it with the Rampart to ensure the shooter will need to work extra hard to get in.
But if he insists and somehow breaks the door down, be prepared to fight…
- If you’re in an office, stay there.
- If you’re in a hallway, find an office and hide there.
- Make as little noise as possible when hiding.
- Do NOT rely on locks.
- Barricade the door as quickly and as quietly as possible.
- Using the Rampart is the best way to secure an inward-swinging door.
- Prepare to fight if the shooter gets in.
If You Have to Fight, Fight With All Your Might
Nobody likes hurting someone.
But when your life is at stake, it’s your only option.
When there’s nowhere to run or hide, your last stance should be to fight with all your might.
If you’ve never got in a physical fight before, there are a few things you need to know.
First, you have to commit to your actions.
When there’s a killer with a gun, there is no time for second thoughts. A split second of doubt can be your undoing.
Next, you have to get aggressive.
When someone is on a killing spree, don’t try to talk them out of it. Charge in as aggressively as you can and incapacitate them.
It’s also a great idea to use an improvised weapon.
Remember, your life is at risk. If you have to hurt the attacker, hurt the attacker. Look around you and grab anything that can serve as an improvised weapon (such as fire extinguishers).
You can also throw items at the attacker to disrupt him/her.
If you can, plan an ambush or coordinated attack.
As the shooter walks from room to room, ambush him when he enters yours.
Also, if there are others with you, a coordinated attack greatly increases your chances of incapacitating the shooter.
Finally, only fight if you have to.
If you are well-hidden, you don’t have to fight. Fighting a shooter is the last resort - something you do only when there’s no other way.
- Fighting is your last line of defense.
- Commit to your actions.
- Use as much force as you can to incapacitate the attacker.
- Use improvised weapons.
- Plan an ambush or a coordinated attack.
You Can Help Law Enforcement do Their Job by Cooperating
Shooting incidents are stressful for everyone.
However, when officers arrive, don’t lax just yet. Wait until you are in a safe area.
You can help these officers a LOT by cooperating with them.
When the officers arrive, remain calm, avoiding pointing or screaming, listen to their instructions, and walk out the way the officers came in.
Don’t ask the first officers who arrive to assist the wounded, that’s not their job. They are there to handle the shooter (emergency responders will arrive shortly after).
So when you see them, avoid distracting them. Raise both hands up and spread your fingers apart, and put down anything you’re holding.
As much as possible, don’t make quick movements towards the officers. Having them around is very relieving, but you should never grab onto them.
Stay as calm as possible. Remember, the danger isn’t over yet. If you distract the officers or appear as a threat, things could go very wrong.
So keep your hands high and listen to what they tell you.
- Remain calm always.
- Don’t expect the first officers to tend to the wounded.
- Put both hands up and spread your fingers apart.
- Follow instructions and avoid asking questions.
- Do NOT make quick movements towards officers.
Active Shooter Plan Checklist for Businesses
With those 7 things, you now know everything you need to know to prepare for an active shooter in the workplace.
Now you can craft the perfect plan for your business.
To help you out, here’s a checklist of the things you should include in your planning and training:
- Instruct everyone on the concepts of Run. Hide. Fight.
- Make sure you can completely lock down your office in case there’s a shooter nearby.
- Keep local emergency contact numbers readily available.
- Have an alarm system to alert everyone when there is an active shooter.
- Show everyone where the emergency exits are.
- Set designated hiding places that can be secured.
- Get the Rampart to secure office doors quickly and safely.
- Instruct everyone on how to approach officers properly.
No one wants to experience an active shooter situation.
Neither does anyone enjoy talking about it.
But the sad reality is that this is something that you HAVE to prepare for.
So whether you have a business, a store, or an office, take action before it’s too late and create an active shooter plan using these 7 pointers!