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Active Shooter Events: Simple Actions Can Save Lives

With a large majority of active shooter events occurring in the workplace, occupational safety and health professionals are looking for guidance in helping their organizations plan, act, and recover. Unlike most safety hazards, active shooters cannot always be identified through a simple assessment, even though warning signs may be recognizable in some cases. They come from all occupations, industries, economic situations, education levels, backgrounds, and race.

What can be done to help an organization assess and control the active shooter risk? Conduct a Threat Assessment to identify areas of opportunity and implement the steps needed to fill any gaps in preparation or response. Need help getting started or to evaluate in-place programs or procedures? Contact Jim Greaves, Catto & Catto’s Risk Management Experience Director. As a Certified Active Shooter Instructor, Jim is able to perform a thorough Threat Assessment of your organization to evaluate areas such as:​

Risk & Vulnerabilities

  • Prior assessments
  • Involvement with law enforcement
  • Number of exits
  • Criminal activity in the area and more

Emergency Action Plan

  • Is there a plan in place?
  • Do you conduct drills?
  • Does your plan address active shooter?


  • Law enforcement response times
  • Contractor controls
  • Perimeter and access controls

Response & Training Programs

  • Do employees know what to do in the event of an active shooter?
  • Do they know how to barricade a room?
  • Do you have a Threat Assessment Team in place?

Technology & Infrastructure​

  • Evaluating the building for shelter in place locations
  • Evacuation points
  • Key control

Recovery Capability

  • Do you have mass communication capabilities?
  • Where is your reunification location?
  • Mass counseling

Simple actions can have a significant impact on all involved in the event of an active shooter situation. Here are some additional tips worth your consideration:

  1. Give law enforcement as much heads up as possible. In addition to pre-event planning, on-scene information about the facility is critical. Employers can place lock boxes in the front entrance containing blueprints and key cards, along with dry erase markers to show the floor plan of a building for additional responders.
  2. Plan for reunification of workers, keeping in mind that law enforcement may have occupied usual emergency gathering spots. In addition, prepare for family members and media personnel to be present on scene. While law enforcement may handle access control, employers can plan in advance and make the process more effective.
  3. Let law enforcement speak to media early on in the event. The company's communications team should work with law enforcement. Later, once the investigative portion is complete, this will transition to the company. Internal communications to workers, however, should come from the company. (In any emergency situation, it helps to have a policy indicating that any media communication should come from assigned company representatives; employees should be instructed to defer to those representatives.)
  4. Have a plan for getting work done. Because law enforcement will essentially close the building for days after an event, it's important for employers to have a contingency plan, keeping in mind that many employees will have quickly left the scene without computers and other items needed for work.
  5. Plan for post-incident counseling. The goal is to normalize emotions, helping workers get back to a routine. Provide HR staff with appropriate training so they are able to assist, and bring in trained professionals to provide counseling.
  6. "Run, hide, fight. Or run, hide, die." Law enforcement recognizes that many employers are not comfortable telling workers to fight. However, if employees can fight back, even with something as simple as throwing a book or yelling, the action can disrupt the shooter enough that stronger measures can be taken. 

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