The number of incidents involving active shooters has steadily in- creased over the last 15 years, and
preparing your staff and your clients now
takes on new significance. In 2000, there
was one active shooter incident, and in
2015 there were 20. According to the
FBI, the largest number of active shooter
incidents occur in a business setting, followed by schools, open spaces and non-military government property.
The FBI defines an active shooter as an
individual actively engaged in killing or
attempting to kill people in a populated
area such as parks, schools, houses of
worship, medical facilities, transportation centers, workplaces and other public
At the recent Workers’ Compensation
Institute conference, Keith Plaisance and
Kelly Bernish of Global SHE Solutions,
LLC, shared their experiences with implementing active shooter preparedness
for the city of Fort Collins, Colorado.
Plaisance explained that implement-
ing an active shooter program is sim-
ilar to preparing for a fire drill, and he
stressed that survival depends on having
a plan with three specific options: run,
hide or fight.
“If you can get out – do it,” advised Plai-
sance. “Always try to escape and evacuate,
and don’t let others slow you down with
He said fleeing workers should leave ev-
erything behind – purses, computers, per-
sonal belongings and the like. The priority
is to get out of harm’s way. He also empha-
sized the importance of preventing others
from walking into the danger zone and
calling 911 once evacuated to a safe area.
For workers who can’t get out to safety,
the next best option may be to hide somewhere in the building.
“Act quickly and quietly, and secure the
place as best you can,” he instructed.
It is important to silence cell phones
to minimize the chances of being discov-
ered by a ringing phone, and to lock the
doors to the office or classroom if possi-
ble. He also recommended hiding behind
large objects to provide some measure of
protection from any gunfire, and to re-
main quiet and calm.
Confronting the shooter
Fighting is a last resort, stated Plaisance.
He said to find items that could be used
as weapons and “commit to taking the
shooter down, no matter what.” He
stressed the need for individuals making
this choice to be physically aggressive in
their attack on the shooter.
Plan ahead for a variety
Plaisance advised the audience to always
be aware of their environment and to
have an exit plan. He said these types
of situations can arise quickly and first
responders are not there to evacuate
anyone trapped in the building. Their
sole focus is to stop the shooter. “Your
actions can make a difference to your
safety and survival,” he added, “and
training is critical.”
Preparing for an active shooter sce-
nario involves the development of a
workplace violence policy and plan,
emergency response plans, training and
exercises, as well as providing physical
Mitigating active shooter risks
By Patricia L. Harman, PropertyCasualty360.com