I am sad that I have to publish such a post, but given the recent events in Paris and now Southern California I think it is prudent to pay attention to such situations. A very timely article appeared in the blog The Art of Manliness written by Brett and Kate McKay. I am going to summarize some of the points they made in their blog and will then refer you to their writing for further explanation.
4 Things to do about an “active shooter”
As the McKay’s point out, the likelihood of you being involved in such a situation is highly improbable, similar to being involved in a plane crash. However, most people pay attention to the instructions from flight attendants, at least the first time on a plane. So preparation is important.
Tip 1- Be prepared
Most of us never want to be in a fire in our office building, yet we have fire drills. The same applies to this situation. Having a plan can save lives because people will have an idea what to do. Without knowing what to do many people may panic and put themselves at risk. McKay says “In an active shooter situation, seconds matter. You don’t have time to figure out what you’re going to do when a guy starts spraying a building full of gunfire. By having a general preconceived plan, you give yourself a head start.” Perhaps it is a good idea to develop a plan and then practice it at the same time you practice a fire drill.
Tip 2 – Maintain situational awareness
This is a good idea wherever you are. Having worked in a mental hospital I learned to be aware of what was going on around me at all times. I practice it when I travel or even when I just go downtown. I remember reading that criminals like to strike when they think you are not paying attention, so I always pay attention to what is going on around me.
In an office situational awareness involves paying attention to people who aren’t supposed to be there, perhaps you have never seen them before or they were just terminated yesterday. In HR if you have terminated someone that had leveled previous threats you need to be aware of the potential of harm if they walk back through the door.
Tip 3 – Know where the exits are
Just as in an airplane, or a fire, beware of the exits. As McKay says, “Wherever you are, always know the locations of the nearest exits.” If you hear something up front go to the back and visa versa.
Tip 4 – Engage active shooter triage
In McKay’s lingo, active shooter triage is RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. Running from danger should always be your first impulse, but McKay explains that a lot of people initially want to hide. Unfortunately that keeps you in range of the shooter.
McKay does an excellent job of explaining the three steps of this triage. I suggest you read his suggestions. I know I will be thinking of these in future situations, I hope you will as well. I know for a fact that fire drills save lives, there is no reason to believe that shooter drills will not do the same.