The Day I Had to Use My “Active Shooter” Training

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active-shooter-response-HR-trainingIt was just a typical Monday in a typical high-rise office building.  I had a 10 a.m. meeting with a new client to assist with some new hires and onboarding.  As I was typing an employee’s name and date of hire into the system, it happened.  The president of the company came into the conference room and said the words no one ever thinks they’ll actually hear: “I need everyone to remain calm and come with me; shots have been fired in the building.”

Just six weeks ago, I had been sitting in an Active Shooter training course Staff One HR was hosting.  I was paying attention, but also keeping an eye on the clock and thinking of all the other things I could be doing.  This “active shooter” thing would never happen in our building.  I politely listened, took a few notes and then went back to my office to work on a client’s handbook.  Never in a million years would I have thought that I would need that incredibly valuable information!

Six weeks later, I found myself in the very situation I never thought could happen to me.  And I was TERRIFIED.  Yet somehow there was clarity; I knew exactly what to do.  I calmly told everyone that I had been trained for this type of situation and immediately began directing the employees into a dark copy/supply room.  I hear myself telling them to close, lock, and barricade the door with a filing cabinet.  To my surprise, I continued delivering calm, precise instructions to the group—keep the lights off, turn your phones to “do not disturb”, remain silent, and if you must talk, whisper.  When they clear our floor, put your phones away—an object in your hand could look like a gun to a police officer, etc.  Everything that I learned in the training that I only half paid attention to, I put to use.

After the fact, we found out the incident had taken place three floors below our suite.  An employee shot and killed a supervisor and then turned the gun on himself. It was definitely a scary situation, and one I would never want anyone to have to go through, but had my company not conducted active shooter training just a few weeks prior, I would have been that much more terrified and unable to offer any kind of help to those around me.

The Department of Homeland Security [DHS] defines an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in many cases, there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.  Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.

In order to meet the OSHA’s General Duty Clause, companies should be prepared to protect their employees from potential workplace violence should it occur.  One way to do this would be through Active Shooter Training for all employees.  This should give employees specific procedures when faced with an active shooter or aggressive intruder situation.

If you are a Staff One HR client, you may reach out to your HR Manager to schedule this training for you and your employees.  Here are a few topics we discuss:

  • When to evacuate and how to do so
  • When to stay put and find a safe place to hide
  • As a last resort, how to take action against the active shooter
  • What to do when Law Enforcement arrives

Some Related Facts

  • A study of active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) showed that there were 160 active shooter incidents from during that time. Of those 160 incidents, 1,043 people were either killed or wounded.
  • The study also showed that there is a steady rise in the number of events per year. In the first half of the years studied, the average annual number of incidents was 6.4, but that average rose in the second half of the study to 16.4—more than one incident per month.
  • Study results also indicated of the 45.6% of the 160—occurred in an environment related to commerce (Companies and shopping centers/malls). The second most common incident locations were in educational environments (24.4%), and the study results established that some of these incidents involved some of the highest casualty numbers.

Unfortunately, active shooter incidents are occurring more frequently.  It’s important to be prepared, giving yourself the best chance of survival and escape, and allowing you to assist others.  I’m thankful for my training, and the way I was able to share it.

Contact the author directly at marisa.eckberg@staffone.com.