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Active Shooter Awareness Training | Emergency Preparedness and Facilities Management

  • Jessica Gopalakrishnan
  • August 15, 2019

Unfortunately, the risk of an active shooter event taking place at your facility has increased in recent years. That means, as with any other risk, facilities teams (and the rest of the organization) must take action to mitigate the risk of an active shooter event.

To that end, Michael Urueta, a FEMA and OSHA Certified Trainer at EHS Planning and Consulting, joined David Trask, National Director of Facilities and Emergency Solutions at ARC, on a webinar hosted by Campus Safety to educate attendees about active shooter training.

The webinar is available to watch on-demand, free of charge. But in this article, we’ll outline 6 of the most critical key takeaways from the webinar.

1. The Need for Mental and Physical Preparation

The unfortunately reality is, active shooter incidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Because of the unpredictable nature of these events, it’s critical to be mentally and physically prepared and that means training for these events is very important.

To protect themselves and others, employees need to make good decisions quickly during an incident. According to Urueta, most incidents are over within 10 to 15 minutes, so no time can be wasted. With plenty of regular training, though, employees can build the muscle memory needed to make good decisions automatically even when they’re under pressure.

2. Showing Strong Leadership in Times of Crisis

Urueta reminded audience members that students, customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of teachers, employees and managers during an active shooter situation. Because of this, it becomes especially critical for everyone in an organization, not just facility managers, to be prepared to make good decisions in the event of an active shooter scenario.

To ensure that employees of all levels are ready, plan for regular training so new employees can get up to speed and existing employees can brush up on their preparation.

3. Communicating Clearly with Emergency Responders

Urueta continously emphasized the need for building staff to communicate effectively with emergency responders. In the event of an active shooter, that means paying attention to the appearance of the shooter, the weapons he or she is carrying, the location of the shooter and also the number of potential victims.

To ensure clear communication Urueta explained the importance of staying calm during the incident. For facilities managers, this is especially important because the building information that facilities teams have access to—if it’s readily available—can help inform the first responders’ efforts to neutralize the threat.

4. Recognizing the Signs of Active Shooters

While not every active shooter incident is preceded by clear warning signs, Urueta did highlight that active shooters tend to be isolated people who strictly adhere to ideologies or feel the need to seek revenge. They also tend to be people with untreated mental health issues or substance abuse problems.

Knowing these signs won’t prevent every active shooter incident, but it can help reduce the likelihood of an event, Urueta explained.

5. Establish Effective, Ongoing Active Shooter Trainings

As mentioned earlier, it was clear from the webinar that training is absolutely critical. However, not all training is considered equal. According to Urueta, the most effective way by far to prepare for active shooter events is with mock active shooter training exercise. Ideally, these will be scheduled quarterly, but at a minimum Urueta recommends twice per year.

These training exercises should also cover situational awareness and knowing when it’s the right time to run, hide, defend, or fight.

6. Develop an Emergency Plan and Make it Mobile

Urueta recommended that everyone create an emergency plan to conduct and validate training and to serve as the foundation for an action plan. David Trask expanded on this point by showing how much more effective an emergency plan is when it’s stored on a mobile, cloud-based device.

Trask demonstrated this by presenting a quick walkthrough of the ARC Facilities app during which he showed the audience how quickly a facilities manager could markup a floor plan and even send that information to a first responder.

Curious to Hear More About Active Shooter Awareness Training?

The webinar concluded with Trask and Urueta fielding questions from audience members.

If you’d like to hear the answers to those questions and go into deeper detail about the key takeaways presented here, you can download the webinar for free.

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