Given the news of late, it brought to mind the security procedures that were implemented by a previous employer. Several years ago, a panic button had been installed at my desk and my co-worker’s desk after a shooting had occurred at a Bay Area company. Just having that button at my fingertips calmed my nerves knowing that if I ever had the need to push it, help would instantly be on the way…or would it? After a year or two had passed, my co-worker and I began to wonder exactly what would happen if we pushed that button. We agreed it was time to review our emergency procedures with the head of security. We were stunned to find out that if the button was pushed, it would only alert our security department, they would then call our desk phone to ask if we were alright and if not then and only then would they call 911 for assistance. We joked that we would surely be dead by the time rescue arrived, but it is no longer a joking matter.
Here is some expert advice I found (courtesy of The Department of Homeland Security) for business owners, administrators, and employees grappling with the same concerns.
- Create an Emergency Action Plan in coordination with department leaders, property managers, local law enforcement and emergency responders.
- Schedule Regular Emergency Drills and Active Shooter Training Exercises.
- Encourage Emergency Responders to train on premises.
- Be aware of suspicious behavior or incidents and respond accordingly.
- Foster a respectful workplace to help prevent a tragic occurrence.
It goes without saying, employees and customers are likely to follow the lead of those “in charge” during an emergency. Business owners, Executive Administrators, Office Managers and Department Heads should be familiar with all facets of the emergency action plan and be prepared to take immediate action while remaining calm. For details on developing a comprehensive plan, spotting potential trouble and managing the consequences of gun-violence or any other emergency in the workplace, visit https://www.dhs.gov/publication/active-shooter-how-to-respond and download their Active Shooter: How to Respond Educational Booklet PDF on how to respond.
Emergency Action Plans can be effective in evacuating large numbers of people, and putting safety protocols in place, while emergency drills & training exercises can help you recognize the sound of gunshots, find evacuation routes, hiding places or last resort options. But what should you do if you find yourself on your own? Once again, I defer to the experts at The Department of Homeland Security.
Good practices for coping with an active shooter situation include:
- Being aware of your environment and possible dangers (as a matter of routine) and taking note of the two nearest exits in any place that your work or visit.
- Don’t use your cellphone once aware of the danger, rather run out of the building and to safety.
- If you have an escape path, help others evacuate if possible, leave, get to a safe area, then call 911.
- If you are in an office and can’t get out, stay there and secure the door, and make sure you are standing to the side of the door, not directly in front of it.
- If you are in a hallway, run in a zig-zag motion, and if there is no exit, get into a room and secure the door.
- If the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee or take cover, experts say your chances of survival are greater if you try to incapacitate the shooter.
- Call 911 when it is safe to do.
Sobering stuff, I know. If you are unsure if your workplace has an active shooter emergency plan in place, ask your manager and/or human resources. If the organization does not, urge the “powers that be” to consider one.
On a positive note, the chances of encountering gun-violence in the workplace or other public places, are still relatively low, despite recent events in the news. Nonetheless, it is always wise to be prepared.
Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, President and Master Trainer, who was an administrative professional herself, and her teaching style is grounded in authentic office experience. AdminUniverse™ can help you improve yourself, widen your skill set, and advance your career. Connect: email@example.com. https://adminuniverse.com