You and your family may be out at the movies, the mall, a concert, a club, and yes a house of worship and get caught up in an event. The motivations range from taking action against the demographic of the location to domestic violence against an individual member, with a range of motivations in between. At the time, the motivation of the shooter is not a factor to our safety. How we react is.
It is also good to know how police will respond to such an event and how to summon help.
- When it is safe to do so, meaning making the 911 call won’t give your position away to the shooter or you are out of the immediate area, call 911 and use the phrase “Active Shooter.” This will prepare police for the correct level of response.
- If you are in a financial institution and have access to “hold-up” buttons that summon the police, use them as a last resort. Make the call above if you can. Police robbery protocol is VERY different and is the wrong kind of help needed during an active shooter event.
- Do NOT pull the fire alarm. This provides the shooter with audio cover. It drives unsuspecting people into the path of the shooter. It summons the wrong kind of help. In fact, active shooters have used the fire alarm to drive people into their path during past events.
Resources to improve planning:
The “Run, Hide, Fight” video prepared by the City of Houston is 6 minutes and encapsulates how many active shooter events play out. I use this in new employee training and share it with my friends and family. Searching “run hide fight Houston” on YouTube will bring it, and a number of other similar videos up.
“Playful Preparedness: Prepare Your Children – For Life” by Tim Young is a book that offers games that you can play with your children to make preparedness less scary and actually fun. The situational awareness exercises may also improve memory and could actually assist with scholastic achievement.
“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why” by Amanda Ripley offers insights on a survivor mentality and how our past experiences may prepare us for future disasters of all types.
“Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life” by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley offers some strategies and skills to try to stay “Left of Bang.” “Left of Bang” refers to a timeline where the “bang” is the incident and the left is everything that happens before the disaster.
Resource to understand stress:
“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping” by Robert M. Sapolsky is an excellent resource to understanding what stress of all types does to your body on a chemical and physiological level. The coping mechanisms offer ways to support your body during times a disaster or violent incident. Stress is unavoidable, this can offer ways to make it less damaging.
The International Public Safety Association has a free webinar “Active Shooter Intruder Response for Houses of Worship” scheduled for Tuesday October 8, 2019. You can find this and other preparedness webinars available at https://www.joinipsa.org/Webinar-Week.
If this is not a scenario factored into your local body’s emergency planning, or if you do not currently have an emergency plan in place, it may be something to consider. Having even the most basic plan makes you better able to respond should the need arise. Writing these plans is something I do in my professional life. If you need assistance, I am on Facebook as Lirio Mori and would be glad to discuss.
Sr. Lirio is a Business Continuity Coordinator for a large credit union in Maryland. She is the subject matter expert on active shooter and other disaster preparedness. She holds the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) credential from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). She recently presented on this and other preparedness topics at IFMA’s national conference, World Workplace. She recently joined the program committee that selects the presenters for that national event. She has also passed the Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) exam for Certified Business Continuity Professional and is waiting on her application to finish processing for that credential.