Conducting active shooter training across your organization is not a small task, especially if your company extends across large geographic areas. Rather than leaving your employees to fend for themselves with PowerPoint presentations exclusively on workplace violence and active shooter planning, consider using these tips to make enterprise-wide training successful.
1. Use workshops to highlight workplace violence, risk of active shooter incidents and response to active shooters.
Active shooter training workshops are an easy, fast way to get your employees together to complete active shooter exercises. However, the size of the convention or event determines the size of appropriate drills. In other words, conducting one drill for 1,000 people is not effective, but using breakout sessions to conduct multiple, mini drills can address this issue. Additionally, breakout workshops and sessions can be used to teach groups how to recognize active shooter warning signs, issues involving workplace violence and how to respond during an incident.
2. Create an itinerary to help employees go through training completely.
Enterprise-wide training programs should follow an itinerary. While this may seem superfluous, it will help employees keep track of what sessions have and have not been completed. More importantly, an itinerary or agenda can help you manage other training needs simultaneously.
For example, a training event might focus on the importance of customer service in preventing workplace violence over several days, giving employees more tools and techniques to manage each situation.
3. Use drills for evacuation, hiding and contacting authorities.
Drills should be created to teach employees how to evacuate, hide and contact authorities in the event of an active shooter incidents. Active shooter plans should also specify what evacuate routes are appropriate for each zone in your various business facilities. Since this depends on the setup of your business, drills may be conducted both during the training event and at the physical location with that location’s staff members.
4. Practice a relocation drill for industry-specific needs, such as health care facilities.
Some businesses cannot simply release employees from duty following an active shooter incident. For example, health care facilities may have to relocate patients and their family members to alternate care sites. This technically falls under the evacuation drill, but you must consider the added burden of moving equipment and people from location A to location B. Additional relocation measures may be required for industry-specific needs, such as those involving chemical production or hazardous materials.
5. Make evaluation a break-out session.
Evaluating the effectiveness of your active shooter plans should be your top priority. If your plan is outdated, you could miss important information that could help save the lives of your employees, yourself or even your customers. Unfortunately, getting wrapped up in training and drills leaves plan evaluation on the back-burner, so make plan evaluation an essential topic in breakout sessions during your training event.
6. Make it realistic, using props and character makeup as necessary.
During an active shooter incident, there is nothing funny, nothing remarkable or enjoyable to think about. But, that does mean exercises should avoid props or the use of acting to ensure employees know how to react. Training should be as realistic as possible, excluding the use of actual weapons to complete the training.
For example, using props and character makeup as necessary may help employees recognize which participants were “wounded” during the simulation and encourage them to respond appropriately, including helping coworkers or customers evacuate, as explained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The realism experienced will provide the closest representation to a real threat possible.
Adjust your active shooter plans and training to meet your unique needs.
There is not a wrong way or right way to conduct active shooter training. The important thing is that training is conducted. Obviously, your organization may have certain preferences for how you approach re-enactments, dissemination of information and training for large-scale operations. Instead of forgoing active shooter exercises and training, adjust the training plan as needed to get the most staff participation out of it. In the interim, consider using these tips to improve your enterprise-wide active shooter training plans.
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We’ve built the crisis management and active shooter plans for colleges, universities, non-profits, and the Fortune 500 while designing and managing effective, realistic exercises for our clients. Learn more about our approach to Crisis Management, including active shooter training, planning, and exercises, in our Ultimate Guide to Crisis Management.