Active shooters in the workplace have become a common topic in the news these past several years. Recent data from the FBI reveal nearly 160 active shooters in the workplace from 2000-to 2013, but from 2014-to 2015, the FBI noted 40 shootings alone, which is a significant increase compared to previous years. While these numbers may not appear substantial, they still induce panic and fear among workers.
According to the FBI, an active shooter is defined as a person who actively engages in killing or attempting to kill other people in a populated and confined area. For most American workers, the risk of being shot at work by an active shooter is minuscule. However, the presence of an active shooter is a terrifying situation for employees who are caught in a workplace environment with nowhere to hide. Thus, some employers are now taking steps to reduce the occurrence of these situations. Businesses also provide their employees with active shooter workplace training to assist themselves should such an incident occur.
Unfortunately, there are some organizations that do not understand how at-risk they are for an active shooter incident and therefore do not know whether it would be justified to develop and invest in an active shooter safety plan. It is crucial for employers to incorporate active shooter workplace training and planning into their operations to help keep both their employees and customers safe from the danger of workplace shootings. Here are some essential details to help develop your workplace planning and training for workplace shooting incidents.
Active Shooter Workplace Training for Employees
Unfortunately, in many cases of past active shooters in the workplace, the individuals were outsiders, so an employer may not have had any warning of the impending threat. In instances where the employee was the perpetrator of such a crime, some of these individuals have exhibited warning signs of their intention to harm other employees. Proactive measures may be helpful in these circumstances.
Regardless of whether the shooter is an outsider or not, the one major difficulty with formulating an active shooter safety plan is that many active shooters are unpredictable. They may be impulsive and have no prior plan of violent action, yet it is still possible to prepare for such an attack. Almost anyone can play a vital role in mitigating the impact of the active shooter prior to the arrival of law enforcement to reduce the chances of death and injury. The majority of active shooter incidents only last several minutes, meaning they will most likely be over by the time law enforcement gets to the site. Thus, it is imperative that the employer and employees be prepared to protect themselves as they wait for first responders to arrive and take control of the situation.
Your employees should know how to react to workplace shooters after participating in the proper training exercises for active shooter preparedness. Such active shooter workplace training exercises include how to recognize gunshots, what action must be taken upon hearing them, and what information should be relayed during a 911 call. Employers should instruct their staff members on the three steps they can take during a shooter incident, run, hide, and fight, and which option is the most appropriate given the circumstances. Additionally, employees can participate in mock training exercises so they can gain firsthand experience.
Active Shooter Workplace Training for Employers
As the leaders of their respective organizations, employers have a responsibility to ensure that they and their staff are prepared to handle workplace violence and prevent it from taking place. One of the ways employers can maintain a safe work environment is to enforce policies that diminish the chances of workplace violence, such as informing employees of zero-tolerance policies for threats, drug use, and weapon possession.
An imperative component of active shooter safety plans recognizes the possible warning signs of a potential workplace shooter. By reaching out to employers about coworkers who exhibit such warning signs, it is possible to stop an active shooter event before it occurs. During active shooter workplace training, employees should distinguish the different signs of a potential shooter and learn how to report any indication of the following features in a fellow worker to their management:
- A tendency to argue or pick fights with other coworkers
- Becoming easily frustrated or angry over a minute or insignificant details
- An obsession with firearms and an increased interest in violent crime or individuals who commit such violence
- Sudden decline in personal hygiene and health
- An increase in drug or alcohol abuse
- Showing signs of depression or talking about suicide
- Showing signs of volatility, bitterness, and frustration
- No longer performing nearly as well as they once did in their role
- Showing signs of hardships outside of work, such as financial problems or issues pertaining to their home life
- An overreaction to changes in company policy and violating rules
It is important for employees and employers not to ignore these signs. In the past, many individuals displayed some of these attributes, and if action had been taken soon, then casualties could have been prevented.
Active Shooter Preparedness Programs
To increase awareness and preparedness of an active shooter, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now offering no-cost resources to both the private and public sectors. The ultimate goal of DHS is to ensure that workers or employers are aware of what they can and cannot do just before, during, and after such an event. In general, the DHS seminars focus on three approaches when faced with an active shooter: run, hide and fight. The fight approach should be a last resort because the active shooter is heavily armed in many cases.
Besides providing literature on the subject, DHS is now offering both in-person and online training that focuses on behavioral indicators of the potential shooter, the possible methods of violence, how to develop an emergency action plan, and what actions to take during the event. The active-shooter online training program is 60 minutes, and it provides introductory steps that one can take when confronted with an active shooter. The program also discusses the behavioral indicators of the potential assailant and how to manage any active shooter incident. The online course can be accessed at the FEMA website.
There are several preparedness workshop series that can help facilitate meaningful discussions on this topic. These workshops are designed to improve emergency actions employees will need to take during an active shooting incident. Their purpose is to inform all participants of the best practices associated with preparing for and responding to an active shooter incident. To acquire more information on these workshops, one should contact the Active Shooter Preparedness Program on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website.
Active Shooter Safety Plan Resources
There are several other online resources available that inform workers on how to prepare for an active shooter incident, such as the resources accessible at
These booklets offer a 90-minute webinar that explains the importance of developing an emergency action plan and how to train employees to deal with such an incident.
If you’re looking for a disaster preparedness program to help your healthcare organization develop an active shooter safety plan, reach out to MedTrainer today. Our comprehensive selection of streamlined healthcare software for compliance and medical staff credentialing software can assist with the safety and accuracy of your institution’s operations.