With the number of active shooter events up three-fold over the past 15 years, and with the workplace being the number one location for these events, property managers and employers are appropriately concerned about knowing how to respond effectively.
While the best protocol for responding to an active shooter event – Run-Hide-Fight – is now widely understood, there is less awareness of how to avoid and prevent them in the first place. Even less well appreciated are the myriad factors that come into play after an active shooter event has ended. The aftermath of an active shooter event typically lasts for months.
While the immediate response options available to property and facility managers are limited, they can and should have an emergency response plan in place that anticipates the myriad post-incident considerations.
First, your property will now be a crime scene. Tenants, employees, even key building staff may not have access to portions or all of the facility for hours or longer. (After the 2016 Dallas sniper shootings, the FBI closed off 16-square blocks of the central business district for several days.) A business continuity component to your emergency response plan that anticipates these types of disruptions can help you respond more effectively and return to normal operations more quickly.
Second, you and your employees may be held as witnesses. Taking witness statements could take several hours. Police may also request access to video camera footage.
You will want to account for your employees as quickly as possible. Because many of your staff will have fled, taking roll call will be difficult. Will you be able to contact all of your employees, or a relative, without access to your office? Rapid notification systems and call-in numbers can help in these situations (as well as with tenant communications).
Media will arrive quickly. Adhering to your organization’s media policies will be important. You may want to set up a media area that is close but not near police investigators or potential victims’ families, who will also begin showing up very soon after the event. (One study by the Federal Transportation Safety Board estimates that for every potential victim, 8 to 10 relatives and friends will show up at the site.) Consider setting up a family waiting area away from media crews.
Cleanup and repairs may take days or weeks. If the building will reopen before all work is completed, you may need to establish visual barriers to help reduce the emotional toll of walking through the affected area.
Insurance claims will likely need to be filed. Your organization’s attorneys may become involved in anticipation of potential lawsuits.
Finally, your staff and employees may need counseling after the event.
No amount of planning can prevent an active shooter event, but it can help reduce the emotional, psychological, and financial damage should one occur at your property. For more information on planning effectively, contact AK Preparedness at 206-238-0055 x224, or info@akpreparedness.