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Alas, everyone needs protocol, training for an active shooter

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Does your organization have a protocol for an active shooter?



You should, as it’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

According to the University of Alabama, a mass shooter incident is likely to occur at work or school more than at any other location.

In fact, a quarter of mass shootings in America occur at a workplace.

The most commonly adopted and nationally recognized strategy for active shooter response is to run, hide and fight.

It’s important to keep emergency plans simple because it’s difficult to remember complex procedures in traumatic situations.

Streamlining the plans helps people to remember them and increases the likelihood of a quick response. In critical situations, decisive action saves lives.

After a plan is developed, it must be practiced. All employees should be taught to look for ways to exit, run and evacuate; ways to barricade a door to prevent access; and places to hide where they will be a less obvious target.


Employees must be prepared to deal with active shooter situations because they are over quickly, often before law enforcement arrives.

According to the Office of Homeland Security, the most effective way to train staff to respond to an active shooter is to hold mock training exercises. They recommend local law enforcement as an excellent resource in designing them.

“We do not rise to the occasion; we fall to our training,” said Steven Crimando, a behavioral science expert in Georgia. “Most companies have regular fire drills and should have active shooter drills as well.

“Burying our heads in the sand, thinking it can never happen to us can be a dangerous practice.”


Employers have a duty to protect their own. Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s general duty clause, an employer is required to protect its employees against “recognized hazards likely to cause serious injuries or death.”

The development of alert messages to go out to everyone on-site at the moment of need is a critical aspect of being prepared.

Choose the type of communications carefully and include email, text messages, voice announcements and desktop alerts.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5 percent of all businesses have an instance of workplace violence each year.

For organizations with more than 1,000 employees, this rate increases to 50 percent.

Jay Hart, director of the Force Training Institute in California, advises businesses that “Empowering employees with the tools on how to identify and communicate to leadership possible high-risk indicators such as growing anger, depression or erratic behavior can be just as, if not more, effective as decisive action during an active threat.”

Preparing for an active shooter incident is not something any employer wants to think about, but it is essential.

Heather Uczynski, a business psychologist and executive coach, founded Leading Edge Business Consulting of Leesport in 2010. Among her areas of expertise are hiring, communication skills, change management, emotional intelligence and conflict resolution. She can be reached at 610-763-7905 or heather@leading-edgebc.com.

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