Active shooter situations typically occur without warning and are over within 15 minutes. That’s a short window of opportunity to shelter in place and/or respond defensively. Being trained and prepared for the worst can help you better determine how to respond when faced with a real threat.
Keeping calm is critical in this situation. It is imperative that you be able to quickly assess your environment. Identify exits and evacuation routes. Determine the location of the shooter(s) and assess how many others are in the building. Depending on your position in the building and the layout of the structure, you should get to the nearest room and secure the door from the inside.
Your best option is always to evacuate, if possible. If evacuation is not an option, shelter in the most secure location available to you. Lock doors and hide beneath desks or behind heavy doors or furnishings that offer some protection. Barricade doors and windows with heavy furniture if time allows. Assess your surroundings and identify items in the room that can be thrown at the shooter or used defensively. You should only attempt to take action against the shooter if you are in imminent danger and have no other choice.
When police arrive on site, their primary task is to identify and immobilize the shooter or shooters. They must quickly assess the situation upon arrival. This includes processing the physical layout of the scene, placement of victims and perpetrators, and responding to rapidly changing conditions in real-time. Upon arrival, every person they encounter is a potential threat. You should stay in place until the police have issued an all-clear or emergency responders are able to assist you. Never rush the police upon arrival.
Plan for worst case scenarios in advance. Identify evacuation routes and potential shelter areas. Provide your staff with professional training. No one can predict when such an event will take place. Train your managers about the warning signs of potential violence by an employee. Every preventative step you can take is a step in the right direction.