Training your employees in your active shooter plan

by todaystrainingblog

If you have read and/or listen to the new statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) you’ll notice that workplace violence doesn’t seem to be waning. According to the BLS & the FBI;

  • 5% of all businesses will have an incident of WPV (I disagree with this one, but…)
  • 50% of businesses with over 1,000 will have an incident
  • .5% of all mass shootings will occur in businesses

Many will say that with numbers like these they don’t need to plan for an incident of WPV, because “the risk is so low it’s not financially feasible to plan for such a thing!” a direct quote from a business owner I recently talked to-socially not a sales call.

But if you believe the statistics from the University of South Florida in 2004, which I obviously do, mass shootings are the least of your worries when it comes to WPV. Because shootings only account for a tiny fraction of incidents;

  • 100% of all businesses will have an incident
  • 15 million incidents will occur yearly
  • Firearms are the least used weapon used in a WPV incident by (ex) employees
  • Threats & intimidation are the most common weapons of choice

So what do you need from your employees to get them to buy-in to your WPV prevention plans? And whether you call them active shooter, disaster recovery, or business continuity plans there are a few factors that will ensure its success. Or failure if these simple facts aren’t followed;

  • Your active shooter plan is necessarily part of your Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). If it’s not, then you’ll have many more trapped, scared, & potentially dead employees in your business and on the news.


  • Everyone has to be on-board with an active shooter plan. Employees, supervisors, managers, support staff, & the c-suite are all resistant to such a plan for innumerable reasons. The most common? Why bother, it can’t happen here, or worse it’s just a part of the job (usually law enforcement & health care).


  • The next factor that needs to be considered in such a plan is that it be flexible. If you wish to be logical then the shooter won’t be. Therefore you need to be able to change items in the plan in a nanosecond & adapt to the changes just as quickly.


  • Your next item is that the plan absolutely be preventative instead of reactive. By this I mean your employees need to train on the plan. They need to know the warning signs and items such as those and techniques to disarm a perpetrator if possible.

The wording in your plan needs to be simple and easily understood by everyone. You may have many a person at your company that has a college degree, but what about the ones that don’t? It needs to be written at a 6th grade level.


  • How will you, or will you, notify the customers in your facility of such a threat. Your liability greatly increases if you don’t, but you need to decide if the risk of falling or a heart attack is worth it. This is another one of those areas that need to be flexible and possibly changed in a second.


  • And Lastly, I will say it again. Training, training, training, your employees need to know how to run, hide, or fight during the incident. And the preferred method, using the European model, by police officers & security professionals is to teach them to attack the attacker en masse, fight, run, or hide.


These are only a few of the things you need to consider when formulating your plan. There are many many more areas that need to be considered. You should always hire a consultant who specializes in WPV to help you write your active shooter and WPV prevention plans. Not that you shouldn’t trust your own security people, but a consultant will bring an outside perspective to your company and planning. And that could be crucial in getting it right, or nearly, the first time.

The outside perspective will do a couple of things; show you areas that you and your staff may take for granted and overlook, because it is taken for granted. Secondly, it may cover things that you may not think are workable, but with a little tweaking… may work out better than either one of you expected.

But the issue here remains; does your facility have a plan for WPV and what happens when it occurs? The next question should be, are the employees actually trained with it, no matter where they work?

The last question then becomes what will happen to you, the employees, and others when it does occur? Can you handle the bad publicity and negativity that surrounds it? Can you tell the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) why employees were not trained? Or possibly inform that you didn’t have a plan? I would not want to be in that deposition room then.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent nearly 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear