There aren’t many things as terrifying as the thought of a mass shooting breaking out while you’re doing your job. Tragedies in the United States and across the world have made it clear that mass shootings are a dreadful yet real possibility in our world today. While these events are rare, it’s essential to have clearly laid out emergency procedures in the workplace that cover a wide range of situations, including the possibility of an active shooter.
When your employees understand how to react, they are less likely to freeze up or make a deadly mistake as they attempt to escape the building. These types of situations might seem out of your control, but there are a number of effective emergency procedures in the workplace that increase your team’s chances of survival.
Notice the Signs
The best time to stop a workplace shooting is before it starts. When a current or former employee acts in a way that seems unusual or alarming, it’s important to stay vigilant and safe. Here are some of the most common signs that someone is a risk for potentially violent behavior:
- Angry outbursts that seem out of proportion for situations
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Social withdrawal or depression
- Signs of instability such as constant mood swings
- Problems at home that are affecting work life
- Out of place comments involving weapons or violence
Reacting to a Shooting
If someone resorts to violence at work, every employee should understand the active shooter plan in effect for the workplace. Just like stop, drop and roll for a fire, there are three easy steps to follow during a workplace shooting.
- Run: Employees should learn a few of the fastest escape routes to get out of harm’s way quickly. Running provides the best chance at survival, so ensure that your employees know several ways out of the building. Leave everything behind; no item is worth risking your life over.
- Hide: If the paths towards exits are blocked or in the line of fire, hiding may be the best option available. If possible, employees should lock or block the doors of their hiding space.
- Fight: When a person is in imminent danger, attempting to incapacitate the shooter may be the only course of action. Survival instincts are likely to kick in during this type of situation, but fighting should only be used as a last resort.
If an employee has found an escape route from the building, they should keep their hands up and visible at all times, so police don’t mistake them for a shooter. They should remain calm and follow officers’ exact instructions to find safety away from the facility.
When employees are a safe distance from the facility, they can help the police by giving them information about the shooter. The number of assailants, their locations and physical descriptions are essential pieces of information that can help put an end to the threat. Under no circumstances should an employee reenter the building.
Workplace shootings are extremely rare, but they do happen. Give your team the skills to survive, and you can reduce the number of casualties during a tragic event.
Employees look to management to model what to do during a catastrophe, so make sure your leadership team is trained and equipped to handle such an event.
For tips on becoming a better workplace leader, read our blog post, “Great Leadership Is About Helping Others.”