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Security Incident Management: Importance of Active Shooter Training

Security Incident Management: Importance of Active Shooter Training

It pays to be prepared for workplace violence.

It seems as though every couple of months there is another active shooter incident---at workplaces, schools and, most recently, the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. You cannot completely prevent these horrible incidences, but with proper training employees can learn to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter situations.

An active shooter is defined as an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people. In most cases active shooters use a firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. They may also use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices.

How Training Helps

Police and private security professionals understand the need for strong training programs as part of workplace security incident management. Companies, as well, have realized that attackers can cause massive loss of life before first responders can arrive on the scene thereby creating the need for active shooter training in various response scenarios.


Training programs and plans must take into consideration the facility’s layout, the makeup of the offices, and other characteristics. A common training tactic is the run- hide- fight approach.

If confronted with an active-shooter threat, the first thing to do is run out of the building or kill zone if possible; if that’s not possible, they should hide. If hiding securely isn’t an option, they should fight with anything available to end the threat, rather than simply waiting to become the next victim.

While this is all good, there there may be issues that affect the situation. For example, evacuation can be difficult in a high-rise office building or there may not be communication about where the shooter is, etc. That’s why it’s imperative that companies have protocols and plans, and that they train their managers and employees on them.

Emergency Communication

Another aspect of workplace security plans is to ensure that critical information can be communicated during an active-shooter situation. The staff should know how to carry out these tasks in case the people who would normally fill those roles are hurt or not available during an attack. They need to be trained not only in how to use the emergency communications equipment, but also in how to provide effective information to 911.

Practice the Drills

It is also important to practice this training through exercises, both to test their training and to test the protocols themselves. It is preferable to include local law enforcement agencies in these drills so that there is collaboration and consensus between the workplace and the first responders. Drill for a variety of possible situations that could arise with an active shooter.

To sum it up, every workplace should conduct active shooter training which should include:

  • Actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and responding law enforcement officials.
  • How to recognize potential workplace violence indicators.
  • Actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents.
  • How to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident.