By Norm Ford
Did you know that the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the 208th school shooting since Columbine in 1999?
Again a long list of innocent victims; again the distressing images and the now familiar look of incomprehension, pain and loss etched across the faces of family members.
The days that followed included stories and intimate portraits of the victims, creating an intimacy that draws you into their grief, their anger and then you react.
One begins to wonder, how can we stop this from happening again? How can we protect our family? Our friends? Our colleagues?
I want to draw your attention to the following in a report by CNN in 2017 on mass shootings.
The Gun Violence Archive describes a “mass shooting” as an incident in which a gunman:
- shoots or kills four or more people
- in the same general time and location
Using this definition, between January 1 and November 5, 2017, there were 307 mass shootings. This averages to almost 7 mass shooting a week. And according to the FBI, 7 out of 10 active shootings take place in schools and businesses.
While the debate rages about what needs to be done – and I urge our leaders to work together to find common ground and take action, to remember that even small steps eventually lead to big changes – I believe there is something we as L&D professionals can do now to address this problem/situation.
First, all businesses and organizations should have an emergency action plan (EAP) that includes guidelines for dealing with an Active Shooter. And they should conduct training and practice emergency response procedures for an Active Shooter with the same frequency as fire drills or other emergencies.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers multiple resources and helpful tips and information around developing an Active Shooter component to your EAP and I strongly encourage anyone who has not already done so to visit their website today.
Effective training, reinforced by practice and drills, will make a difference and potentially save lives. Active Shooter incidences are unpredictable and evolve very quickly – you can’t train for every possible scenario. But there are general actions that may be taken when confronted by an Active Shooter. The truth is despite the alarming frequency of these tragedies, many of us are, fortunately, still unused to facing such danger and can, when in the situation, become paralyzed with fear. Recognizing potential workplace violence indications, knowing the basic response actions, and conducting practice sessions on how to respond can help alleviate this and demonstrate in a practical way where the best place to hide is and what the fastest escape route is.
When I was in the Navy, we spent a lot of time training, practicing, and conducting drills. I can tell you firsthand that in an emergency being prepared helps you take proper action without hesitation; your training takes over, fear and panic are reduced and lives can be saved. Emergency procedures need to be second nature in order to control our natural reaction of stress when facing a crisis situation.
It is our hope that you never find yourself in an Active Shooter situation, but we still want to make sure EVERYONE has the opportunity to receive comprehensive training. Access our free Active Shooter courseware and other resources now, so you are equipped with the skills and know-how to be in a position to take back some power, some control and defend your life.
Norm Ford is VP of Operations for Compliance Solutions at Skillsoft.