Does your organization have a workplace violence policy?

Are there procedures to follow? Has your organization conducted an active shooter or other violent intruder drills or exercises? Are your staff and other key stakeholders prepared for such an attack? How would your staff respond and how would you manage the event?

Answers to the above questions, plus many more, should be clearly understood by every organization in order for them to prepare employees and management for the unthinkable. It’s a subject many organizations don’t want to talk about. You need to have the conversation.

If you have an existing emergency response plan that includes a violent intruder component, you should be training employees to that plan and then practice the physical response piece. Understanding procedures versus actually going through a physical drill are two completely different elements to workplace violence. We had a motto in the Army – “Train Like You Fight”.

Training and Situational Awareness

If you have all the documentation and basic awareness pieces in place, then it’s time to empower employees. Provide them with the necessary tools and education in order for them to make good choices based on what they experience. Situational awareness plays a very big role during an active shooter or other violent intruder attack scenario.

Crawl, walk and then run is a good baseline to go by with regards to this type of training. Walk through your office, building, facility, or other location with your employees and look at your environment. Ask yourself, “what would we do if someone came into this space shooting”? Ask yourself, “what we would do if we heard threats coming from someone close to our work station?” Ask other questions that you may be concerned about and then start to think about what your options might be. What you do next is usually based on the training that you’ve been provided. Run – Hide – Fight is a common practice that is generally taught. There are many other acronyms (products) that are on the market, some of which are not that easy to remember during a highly stressful situation.

Understanding your environment and the locations you may need to run to as well as hide, may save your life. Ever thought about trying to barricade yourself and your team in a room? There might not be another option. Slow the aggressor down and you might just have saved valuable seconds that enable the responders to neutralize the target.

Know your environment, listen to the sounds, and trust your gut instinct.

The Violent Intruder Drill

Like all drills that are carried out, there needs to be clearly defined objectives. Why are we doing this and what are the goals? Be realistic, especially if this is your very first one.

  • Will you include a crisis management team that sets up the situation room?
  • Will you use role players?
  • Who will be involved?
  • To what level are we going to simulate?
  • Who needs to be informed?
  • What simulation resources do we need (high viability vests, cordoned off locations, others)

A big part of these types of drills is to ensure they’re very well coordinated. These drills should always include professionals that understand the drill planning process and all safety measures that need to be in place before the drill unfolds. I can’t stress this enough. Do your research before going into this level of violent intruder training drills.

There are many other elements to the drill which need to be planned out. Good luck.

Rob Burton

Rob Burton

Rob is a Principal at PreparedEx where he manages a team of crisis preparedness professionals and has over 20 years of experience preparing for and responding to crises. Part of his leadership role includes assisting PreparedEx clients in designing, implementing and evaluating crisis, emergency, security and business continuity management programs. During his career Rob has worked for the US State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, as a crisis management consultant in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he negotiated with the UN and Pashtun tribal warlords and he served with the United Kingdom Special Forces where he operated internationally under hazardous covert and confidential conditions. Rob was also part of a disciplined and prestigious unit The Grenadier Guards where he served Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Palaces in London. Rob was a highly trained and experienced infantryman serving in Desert Storm and commanded covert operational teams and was a sniper. Rob has keynoted disaster recovery conferences and participated in live debates on FOX News regarding complex security requirements and terrorism. Rob has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.