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The threat of an active shooter is a possibility anywhere. But as with any crisis situation, preparation and planning can help to minimize chaos and injury. Establishing an active shooter protocol, and communicating that plan to your tenants and employees, is critical. Your plan should:
- Stress the importance of remaining calm in any violent situation.
- Encourage anyone involved to call 911 in an emergency.
- Enforce the importance of remaining on the line with the 911 operator until police arrive because needs may change as an event unfolds.
- Detail how to warn employees an active shooter is present. Code words, intercom capabilities and instant messaging can help ensure people are aware of the situation and stay out of harm’s way.
- Include evacuation and lock-down procedures.
- Discuss how employees can observe details of the shooter in case the perpetrator leaves the premises.
- Train people to take accurate head counts and to check others for injuries.
- Account for mock shooter drills.
The response to an active shooter situation will be determined by the particular circumstances. It is important to assess the situation and make the best choices for the individual event.
If an active shooter enters your workspace, call the police and give the location and description of the shooter if possible, and attempt to negotiate with the shooter, but do not attempt to overpower them with force — that should be the last resort.
When possible, evacuate the building if it appears safe to do so. This may need to be through a window or back door. The safest exits in an emergency may not be the main hallways or doors—well-marked exits could be targets for potential shooters. It is crucial not to assume help will quickly come to evacuate the location as active shooter incidents are the most chaotic, confusing and difficult scenes to manage. The first responders’ priority will be to contain the shooter. If you are able to and decide to flee the building, have an escape route in mind, bring a cell phone, keep your hands visible and do not stop to assist wounded victims or move them. Instead, tell the police where they are located.
If there are no safe escape routes a lock down might be a better choice. Immediately notify the police of where you are, and conceal yourself in a room that can be locked or barricaded. Turn off the lights and stay away from doors and windows to create the impression that no one is there. When the police arrive, move slowly, keep your hands visible and follow all instructions.
For more information concerning the prevention of gun violence...
Project Safe Neighborhoods
US Department of Justice