Active Shooter Event at Your Business


What are the chances?

A little over two years ago I wrote for the first time about “active shooter events.”  Yesterday I saw in a recent FBI report such events have doubled in the past seven years.

And more than 2/3 of them take place at businesses or schools.

Do you work, or do you know people who work in office settings? Are you a student, or do you know students?

If so, do they know what to do if they suddenly find themselves in the midst of a live shooter event, or even hear shots?

Over in five minutes or less.

Run Hid Fight, Emergency Plan

Link to this video below.

Two thirds of active shooter events are over in less than 5 minutes, and one-third are over in less than 2 minutes.

This means If you find yourself in such an event, you have to make QUICK decisions.

Freezing or waffling or screaming are NOT good responses, and in fact may get you killed!

The City of Houston, with the assistance of a Homeland Security Grant, created a training video that is really worth watching. We saw it first at city hall, shown and discussed by our local police department.

The video seems to have become somewhat of a standard for how to respond – and my recommendation today is that you make sure your co-workers have seen it.

The Standard — Run, Hide, Fight: Surviving an active shooter event

 Run, Hide, Fight shows a simulated event taking place in an office setting.  The whole video runs only 6 minutes.

 CAUTION: Although the action is simulated, it contains some intense scenes.  Prepare your audience before showing it.

You can view the video on YouTube at:

The FBI report mentioned above has not gone unchallenged. Criminologist James Alan Fox at Northeastern University in Boston points to the fact that there is no official tracking mechanism for active shooting and mass shooting events. And USA Today’s separate report showed different totals based on their own news sources.

For this Advisory, it doesn’t really matter whether the FBI’s definitions or totals correspond to USA Today’s. What is important is to know how to respond  or even prevent such an event.

Can such events be prevented?

Of course, prevention would be the most desirable option. As someone in a work situation, here are some statistics from the 64 incidents documented by the FBI that should give you pause for thought:

  • All but six of the shooters were male, nearly always acting alone.
  • In about 10% of the incidents, male shooters targeted current and former wives and girlfriends.
  • Other family members were targeted almost as often.
  • Almost all of the shooters had a “real or perceived, deeply held personal grievance.”
  • Shooters were inspired by and copied other attacks.

Are there warnings?

As we have learned, many – although certainly not all – shooters have been identified by family, fellow students or co-workers as exhibiting disturbing behavior well before they go on their killing spree. Even psychologists or other professionals have known of these people’s troubles.

Unfortunately, most people do not say anything for fear of civil lawsuits or for fear of being branded alarmists.

Take a look at your own school or workplace. Are you all watching out for fellow students or co-workers?  Are you aware of some of the most common triggers for violence, such as divorce, financial problems, or other legal issues? Do you have someone to whom you can report unusual or threatening behavior without fear of reprisal?

You may not be able to stop a shooter event. However, you may be able to save lives by making sure everyone knows the survival principles illustrated in Run, Hide, Fight.

The principles aren’t difficult, but having them top of mind could make all the difference.

Share the video!

We are planning to show the video in two weeks as part of our regular neighborhood emergency planning meeting. Some of the audience members will be very senior citizens; it will be interesting to see how they react.  I’ll report on how the showing goes!

And if you show it to your CERT team or your co-workers or classmates, let us know what questions it brings up.  We want to share every good idea we can. Here’s the link to the video again,

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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