About a year ago, on August 31, 2019, there was an active shooter situation here in the Odessa area. We were lucky that we didn’t have a lot of casualties, because that guy went all over the place. His shooting spree only lasted around 34 minutes. We need to be prepared in case that happens again.
A rapid, safe and successful response to a mass shooting requires preparation. In an emergency – managers of businesses need adapt to society’s changes so that the delivery of emergency services is ensured in a crisis. Here are some basic tools and information needed to develop or assess a plan for preparing and responding to a mass shooting.
Some mass shooting events begin with a warning or threat. Threats can be an alarming behavior, statements, actions, or the discovery of physical items (weapons, plans, death lists or notes). The threat assessment process is based on several factors such as behavior, history, intent, and capability.
Call 911 – when it is safe to do so.
Many types of these events can’t be peacefully resolved or negotiated. It must also be recognized that there are serious domestic and international threat groups and individuals that are willing and able use weapons against the public. One important reminder is that there are active hate groups and extremists in all 50 states. They even live in small communities.
We all share some of the same priorities during a mass shooting. These include the need to make sure that people are safe and secure. Planning should be paramount for all types of situations.
A coordinated effort with all agencies – such as Emergency management, law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS), is necessary to have an effective response.
No two shootings are the same.
Safety is paramount during this type of event. Factors like the shooter’s motive, his or her weapons, familiarity with the location and the number of staff and visitors can all influence an incident’s outcome.
Every business should have a crisis kit. These kits can be of great use during a mass shooting or at any other type of critical incident. It is important that these kits be updated and ready for immediate use. The kit should be in a location that is readily accessible to the staff.
Kits can include items such as special keys and diagrams of the business, employee rosters (with photos if possible), blueprints of the building(s), maps of surrounding area, aerial photos, and other items that are identified by the facility.
Management should also prepare a facility specific multi-hazard emergency operations plan that addresses all hazards including armed attack/violent situations and train their staff to be familiar with the plan.
The likelihood of a mass shooting is low, but we should still prepare for these situations. It’s impossible to plan for every situation that may occur. New best practices and lessons learned are available on an ongoing basis. Emergency response plans should be updated regularly.
We recognize that training and preparation for these events sometimes is met with stiff resistance and denial. Nevertheless, they are important. Remember how you train is how you fight.