Facts About Active Shooter Incidents

ActiveShooterData.org analyzed 192 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2015. It found that business locations were the site of more than half of all events, with 98. Schools had the second-highest amount of active shootings (44 events). There were 32 active shooter incidents that took place in public venues. There were eight active shooter incidents that occurred in churches and seven that occurred within medical facilities during this time period. Military bases experienced three active shootings.

active shooter incident

What To Do During Active Shooter Incidents

An active shooter is an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In most cases, the situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because an active shooter incident is often over within 10 to 15 minutes—before law enforcement arrives on the scene—individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to respond to an active shooter situation.

Even if the company is able to resume its operations after an active shooter incident, recovery can take an extensive amount of time. To recover from a shooting, organizations should make continuity planning, personnel issues and communication strategies top priorities. In this guide, we’ll share recommendations from experts about what organizations can do to recover from an active shooter incident.

active shooter incident

Managerial Roles During An Active Shooter Incident

Employees and customers are likely to follow the lead of management and HR personnel during an emergency. Taking the time to devise an emergency action plan, and delegating certain tasks among management and HR can mean the difference between life and death. As such, managers should be prepared to do the following:

  • Take immediate action.
  • Remain calm.
  • Evacuate staff and customers via a preplanned evacuation route to a safe area.
  • Lock and barricade doors as necessary.

Emergency Preparedness Kits

In the event of an emergency evacuation, safety is paramount. You should never go out of your way to grab personal belongings. However, business owners have a responsibility to keep their employees safe, besides worrying about whether they can remain fully functional as an organization. That is very difficult to do if you’re not equipped with everything you might need as the incident unfolds—and the hours that follow.

Having an emergency preparedness kit ready to grab on the way out—or available for law enforcement to access when it is safe for them to do so—can be invaluable when you need to account for your employees, communicate with their emergency contacts, deal with the press and even potentially provide first aid.

Even when it is safe to re-enter the building, law enforcement may not allow you to. An emergency preparedness kit should contain whatever an employer needs to keep communication open between staff, customers and third-party vendors. It should be placed so that designated individuals can grab them quickly as they exit the building or in a predesignated meeting location off-site. Contents in the kits should be updated regularly, and they should be light enough to not become a burden. Some examples of what to put in an emergency preparedness kit can be found here.  

Active Shooter Incident

How To Respond When An Active Shooter Is In Your Vicinity

In the event that an active shooter is in the vicinity, remember that employees are likely to follow the lead of management, and customers are likely to follow the lead of employees. The Department of Homeland Security makes the following recommendations:

1. Evacuate

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises with the following considerations:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Leave your belongings behind. Managers or individuals responsible for your company’s emergency preparedness kit should grab it on the way out only if doing so doesn’t put them in further danger.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible so the shooter does not see you as an immediate threat.
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

2. Hide Out

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should have the following characteristics:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provides protection if shots are fired in your direction (e.g., an office with a closed, locked door)
  • Doesn’t trap you or restrict your options for movement

You should also take some basic steps to prevent a shooter from noticing your presence or entering your hiding place:

  • Lock any doors, if possible.
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture.
  • Silence your cellphone.
  • Turn off any source of noise (e.g., radios or televisions).
  • Hide behind large items (e.g., cabinets or desks).
  • Remain as quiet as possible.

If evacuation and hiding are not possible:

  • Remain calm.
  • Dial 911 to alert police to the active shooter’s location, if possible.
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

3. Take Action Against the Shooter as a Last Resort

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and or incapacitate the active shooter by doing the following:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible toward him or her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

How Active Shooter Incidents End

Active shooter incidents typically end in one of four ways:

  • The shooter commits suicide
  • The shooter and law enforcement exchanged gunfire
  • Unarmed citizens successfully restrained the shooter
  • Armed citizens exchanged gunfire

Day of Shooting Communication

Having a well-prepared emergency action plan in place before an emergency is crucial, but executing that strategy is much more difficult in the face of tragedy. In order to effectively communicate with stakeholders and employees, businesses need to delegate responsibilities ahead of time. These responsibilities should be listed in the company’s emergency action plan and include tasks such as communicating with family members and talking to the press, among others. Leadership should have several preplanned responses to rely upon and modify as needed for active shooter incidents. The emergency preparedness kit can help with this.

Keep in mind that, although social media makes a great tool for communicating with the public post-incident, it is not an appropriate platform for informing family members of any details. One communication option to consider is the use of dark websites that go live in the event of an emergency. When someone types in the main URL for the organization, they are redirected to a ghost site that has the latest information available.

Don’t forget about visitors. Making sure visitors provide their cellphone numbers when they check in can help you contact them in any emergency situation. Ask law enforcement for access to your visitor log so you can account for all visitors who were in the building the day of the shooting.

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