April 26, 2021

Active Shooter Preparedness: Does Your Company Need It?

Kirk Madsen

At 1Huddle, we work with a number of clients and venues who utilize our platform for their most serious training, including active shooter preparedness training. We have partnered with some of the world’s largest stadiums, airports, and schools across the country to educate Americans about how to react in an active shooter situation.

Last year, gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans — which made 2020 the deadliest year for gun violence in decades. Now, as offices begin reopening after a year of shutdowns, we’re starting to see more headlines that say things like: FedEx killings mark return of mass workplace shootings paused by pandemic. Last week’s shooting at a FedEx in Indianapolis was the deadliest workplace shooting in over a year, and a recent NBC article warned that experts expect workplace shootings to increase this year “as more people return to work after a year of pandemic-induced isolation.”

James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, is one of America’s top experts on mass killings. He said that mass killings will likely increase this year since many people have experienced heightened economic and mental hardships during the pandemic.

Even before the pandemic took a severe toll on people’s mental health and economic wellbeing, offices were the most common location for mass shootings in America; nearly 40% of all public shootings happen in the workplace, and Professor Fox explains that this problem is likely to get worse in the near future. 

“Workplace killers see themselves as victims of unfair treatment and want revenge,” Fox said in an interview with NBC News. “They generally think other people are getting the promotions, other people are getting the breaks and somebody has to pay.”

We’re not writing this blog to scare employees and employers about returning to the office, but it’s important to train and prepare every worker for the possibility of a workplace shooting before we return to work. As a workforce leader, you might not have power to enact meaningful legislation that can prevent gun violence, but you do have the power to train and prepare your workers for an active shooter situation.

You might be thinking: there’s no way to prepare for that sort of situation. Can a training genuinely help people, or will it just scare workers without really benefiting anyone?

Although the majority of Americans are aware of the threat of mass shootings, 35% of employed Americans still say they are not confident they know what to do if an active shooter enters a building they are in, according to a recent survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Tom Lally, the Director of Training & Compliance and First Aid & Safety at Cintas, told the Associated Press that “effective training can help prepare employees for these worst-case scenarios by teaching them to recognize the warning signs of workplace violence and how to properly respond to an armed threat, which can help make a difference and potentially save lives.” 

As workforce leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure our workplaces, workers, and customers are prepared and trained to handle an active shooter situation. Since 1Huddle has been used to roll out active shooter trainings at airports, stadiums, and workplaces across the country, we have put together the top 3 things companies can do right now to make their workplace more safe:

1. Evaluate your plans to keep customers and employees safe. 

In 2020, people all over the world experienced global change at a scale and pace that no one has seen before. Naturally, our responses to change began with the self-preservative measures needed to survive: lockdowns, remote work, global supply chain shifts, COVID treatment and vaccination campaigns, political actions, and more. As vaccination rates increase, businesses around the world are faced with fundamental operations questions that still need to be answered. 

Companies must begin by evaluating the plans they have in place to keep their employees and their customers safe. As leaders, it is our responsibility to ask fundamental safety questions like:

  • Have our safety plans (including active shooter safety measures) been updated in the past 6-12 months? 
  • Do our safety plans include clear, specific preventative and responsive steps to protect employees and customers?
  • Is there a point person responsible for ongoing monitoring and revision of your policy?
  • Have you surveyed your workers to find out if everyone in the organization feels prepared and supported by your company’s safety plans?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, take the initiative to make change now.

2. Engage your employees through consistent feedback and communication. 

An effective safety plan is not a one-and-done, top-down initiative. It takes consistent communication and coordination from all employees. Despite two-thirds of organizations naming active shooters as a top safety threat, 79% of companies say they are not fully prepared for an active shooter situation and more than 60% do not run a readiness drill. 

We must give our teams the tools they need to act. An effective plan ensures that all employees are clear on their roles and responsibilities to protect themselves and others in the event of a crisis. 

In moments of crisis and danger, people need to be ready to act reflexively. That level of automatic and urgent action is only possible when teams are engaged and consistently practice.

At 1Huddle, we work with clients to make sure everyone on their team engages in purposeful practice by:

  • Creating content that clearly communicates the roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • Offering a safe, low-stakes, competitive environment to measure protocol comprehension and improvement
  • Building a company-wide culture that incentivizes and rewards ongoing employee preparedness and readiness

Safety plans cannot live in binders or in online modules that employees only engage with once a year. Each employee must be as prepared to take action in moments of crisis as they are for their daily job responsibilities.

3. Respond swiftly to changing circumstances. 

In 2019, if a person walked into a bank wearing a mask, a teller might have immediately reached for the panic call button. Of course, that scene calls for a much different response during the COVID area. 

Around the country, civil protests have put businesses in city centers in close proximity to rapidly-evolving confrontations between protesters, law enforcement, and bystanders. 

Safety procedures that are not capable of responding and rapidly adapting to changing social, political, and health circumstances create uncertainty. In situations involving employee and customer safety, uncertainty is dangerous.

As leaders, we have the responsibility to make sure our employees are prepared to work safely with training that is:

  • Able to be created, edited, and adapted rapidly in response to changing environments
  • Deployable to all employees at any time without delay
  • Capable of reaching a diverse, mobile-connected employee base
  • Available to workers all day, every day

As 2020 taught everyone: change is often unforeseen and fast. In safety situations, we must be prepared to respond with the same pace and urgency.

So if you’re ready to create a safer, more prepared workforce that’s equipped with training that evolves as quickly as the world around us, then start your free 1Huddle trial today.

Kirk Madsen, VP of Sales at 1Huddle

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