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Active Shooter Response Planning

January 2nd, 2013

With the recent active shooter tragedies in Aurora, Portland and now Newtown, it becomes increasingly evident that organizations/businesses/schools need an active shooter response plan. Furthermore, this is not a one size fits all challenge. Granted, the plan from one organization or institution to another may have some common reaction guidelines but the specific response protocols for each may be quite different.

In a prior blog I wrote that there are typically three response choices for facility occupants to rely upon:

get out – exit immediately if possible

hide out – lock and barricade in place if escape is not possible

take out – mass attack the shooter if you’re cornered and fight for your life

However, to be practical and effective tailored shooter response protocols have to take into account several factors such as:

  • The type of facility in question – school, mall, business, sports complex, etc.
  • The environment in which the facility is located – city, suburban, rural, remote, etc.
  • The type of communication system available
  • The occupants’ capabilities – age/physical abilities
  • Emergency responder availability/response time
  • Public occupants vs. employees only

These are just to name a few.

The variations of how “get out / hide out / take out” is applied and which of these response options are selected under what conditions will be influenced by these and other factors. Having a generic plan which defines these three basic options is only the beginning. Accounting for these factors and giving example circumstances to prepare each occupant to know specifically what they should be doing is the key to developing an effective active shooter response plan. Then the plan must be tested and rehearsed. Include the local emergency responders in the refinement of your plan. Lessons learned from other incidents that have occurred, and from your own rehearsals, can be used to further modify and tailor your active shooter response plan; the one that might become part of your legal defense and your clear conscience. Facility management has a legal and moral responsibility to have an active shooter response plan that is practical and will give people a chance to survive. It’s the right thing to do.

For more detailed training regarding active shooter response guidelines see our course to be released in January 2013 at www.imac-training.com.

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