June is National Safety Month: Week 3 – Prepare for Active Shooter


June is National Safety Month: Week 3 – Prepare for Active Shooter

This is National Safety Month, where the National Safety Council , the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and organizations across the country join together to help prevent serious injuries and deaths caused by accidents.  Each week has a different focus during the month of June.

Active Shooter Examples from Yesterday

This week is week three, with theme “Prepare for Active Shooters.”  It’s an apt topic for all of us.

Consider this week’s news stories which include three active shooter incidents from just yesterday:

  1. June 5, 2017 Beauty College in Fort Wayne, Indiana

A lone gunman entered the Ravenscroft Beauty College shortly before seven o’clock in the evening yesterday and began shooting.  One woman was seriously injured while others on the scene escaped without harm as the shots began.  The shooter was found dead in an apparent suicide.  Preliminary police reports suggest this may be the result of a domestic disturbance between the shooter and the victim.

  1. June 5, 2017 Capital University in Columbus, Ohio

A drive-by shooting with reports that the suspects were heading towards the university campus sent a university-wide alert for a possible active shooter at the Ohio campus this Monday.

  1. June 5, 2017 Orlando Workplace Shooting

Also on Monday, a disturbed ex-employee of an RV-accessories manufacturing company returned to the workplace to shoot and kill five employees before committing suicide at the scene.

Preparing for Active Shooters

Sadly, planning on the steps to take to prevent harm or fatality in the face of intentional violence has become a part of our society.

In our next post, we will discuss the duties and liabilities of businesses, educational institutions, schools, hotels, restaurants, bars, transportation companies, and more in protecting their customers and clientele from the active shooter danger. 

Today, we consider what is involved in this very real risk to those of us living and working here in Indiana and Illinois.

What is an Active Shooter?

It’s important that we all understand what law enforcement considers to be “an active shooter” and that we make sure that our families and loved ones understand the danger of being near an active shooter situation.

One description is provided by the Dean of Security Studies at Colorado Tech:

An active shooter is someone who attempts to engage in an act of “mass murder,” which is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as four or more murders during the same incident.

Unlike terrorism (which tends to be a much more calculated act of violence and is motivated by a political agenda of some kind), or criminally motivated shootings (some of which are calculated hits but most of which are semi-random types of violence), active shooter violence tends to be highly random and sporadic and is usually motivated either by a personal grievance (as in workplace violence, for example) or the result of serious mental disturbance.

Active Shooters-The Quiet Threat that Dwells in Your Backyard by Nadav Morag, Ph.D., Universtiy Dean of Security Studies Colorado Technical University, page 1.

Why Are They Doing It?

According to Dr. Morag, active shooters come in two forms:  the person with a grudge against his or her intended victims or the individual who acts in what appears to be a completely random manner.

Grudges motivate things like workplace shootings.  Campus shootings are examples of random active shooters.

Preparing for Active Shooter Danger: The Individual

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warns that active shooter crises happen fast and escalate rapidly.

  1. Know the Two Nearest Exits at All Times

DHS wants everyone to be alert constantly, no matter where you may be and how safe you consider your environment.  DHS wants everyone to be aware of the two nearest exits in any location at all times.

Remember to be alert to your surroundings ALWAYS and to know the location of the two closest exits at all times continually. This is 24/7 awareness for yourself, your spouse, your children, and your loved ones.    

  1. Active Shooter Situation

If there is an active shooter in your vicinity, then the DHS wants you to do the following:

  • Run to a safe place immediately.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • If you’re unable to run, hide.
  • If you’re somewhere with a door, lock it or barricade it shut.
  • Silence all electronic devices.
  • Call 911 when you can safely do so.
  • As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. In close-range cases, fighting increases your chance of survival.

Preparing for the Active Shooter: Businesses and Public Venues

Already there are research studies in place for how businesses and public venues like schools, colleges, universities, etc., can prepare for an active shooter situation.  Dr. Morag’s White Paper, for instance, discusses classification of risk-analysis into three areas:  intelligence, training, and security.

In our next post, we will delve into the duty of care that these companies and institutions have to those invited to their location (customers, clients, students, patients, etc.). 

The duty appears to be acknowledged and accepted; indeed, there are special insurance policies already been sold to policyholders as “active shooter insurance products.”

Tragic State of Things Today

It is tragic that today’s society forces us to instruct our children to know where the two nearest exits are in their school as well as at the movie theatre or local restaurant at all times in case of an active shooter.  It is also disturbing to consider how businesses and institutions will balance the need for preparing for these active shooter risks against their bottom line.

How much effort in time and expense will be taken to protect against and prevent future active shooters and how often will companies risk a breach of that duty of care in order to make bigger profits? 

More on that in our next post.  Be careful out there!

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