What I have written here should only be seen as a seed for thought, I strongly encourage everyone to contact security professionals for more information and insight on this subject.
When someone has a hand gun or a rifle and has begun to shoot at objects and individuals, either randomly or targeted, it is called an active shooter incident and requires all first responders to be at their highest level of professionalism. Because of the damage a gun can inflict, the needs of the survivors, and the grief felt by family, friends, and first responders an active shooter incident is also one of the most traumatic incidents that a first responder will experience. An active shooter incident requires team work, with everyone contributing to the conclusion of the incident.
ALERTS: I remember talking with one of my instructors of the Spokane COPS training program, he said this about preparations for an active shooter incident, at the beginning of the incident an alert should be sent to everyone involved and this alert should be silent or natural to the environment so as to not draw the attention of the shooter.
But which businesses need such an alert? This is a good question and I would advise all businesses to consult with a security expert and get their advice on alerts. If you are advised to develop an alert, do not hesitate in doing so and practice it like you would a fire drill. Unfortunately, like a fire, you never know when an active shooter will visit and so you should be prepared, both in your protocol and with your mind. This is a sad, but very real part of our world today.
RUN: During an active shooter incident avoiding and running away from the shooter is priority one. If no one is there, then no one can be shot.
This requires knowledge of every possible means of safely existing a building. As a simple rule, fire exists are good because they are designed to get people quickly out of a building. When you see a shooter or get an alert you should immediately go to the assigned exists for an activate shooter incident. Do not look for personal belongings, do not search for a friend, do not use a hand held devise, just leave as quickly and quietly as you can.
Like in fire drills, after existing the building having an assigned place to meet allows everyone to be accounted without confusion. This place should be identified in the exit plan.
Once you leave the building you might be confronted by a law enforcement officer. Do not be surprised or even upset if he/she tells you to keep your arms up and your hands visible, he/she is acting with an abundance of caution, because there have been shooters who have attempted to escape by blending in to the crowd leaving the building.
HIDE: If you cannot escape the building during an active shooter incident, then you should gather with others in the building or on the same floor in a room identified for this purpose. This is often referred to as sheltering in place. You should turn off the lights and if possible any electronic devices. Cell phones should be in a muted format or turned off. Barricade the door and if possible lock it. Make every attempt at keeping low to the ground and stay away from windows. Use an appropriate object as a barrier and remain behind it. Stay quiet and control your emotions. If you have a security guard in the room, let him/her make the decisions regarding safety. Do not leave this room until you have made actual contact with law enforcement.
A Safer Room. There should be offices and/or side rooms that appear to be typical and normal in every way, but in reality are rooms that have been identified as “safer rooms” for those who cannot escape the building during an active shooter incident. These are not safe rooms, because no room is safe when confronted by a well-armed individual. But these rooms are safer than the others in the building. These rooms should have only one door with a bolt lock, the door and frame should of industrial grade and strength, it should have furniture that can either stop or slow down bullets, and items that can be easily used as barricades for the door. There should also be a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit in this room.
FIGHT: This is a “if all else fails” option. If you cannot avoid and flee from the shooter and all attempts at hiding have failed, then fight becomes the option by default.
However, let me be very clear, because of the danger and potential loss of life, security guards should avoid this kind of confrontation whenever possible, because it can only happen if they are close enough to the shooter to engage in hand-to-hand combat.
This kind of combat requires a high skill level and should be avoided by anyone without this training. Simply put, if you “think” you can do it, you cannot. Because it is a form of training that becomes instinctive, a natural reaction. Therefore, if a security guard does not have hand-to-hand combat training, they realistically have only two option, fleeing and hiding.
To enhance their skill level, I would encourage all private security guards to receive Krav Maga self-defense training and maintain this level of training throughout their career as a security officer. Unfortunately, many of the instructors who provide Krav Maga training charge a rate that is prohibitive to many security guards, who only earn a basic hourly wage.
Written by Dave Pflueger July 2016 (c) copyrighted by Pflueger. Dave is a former Correctional Chaplain of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and certified for mental health peer counseling.