Planning for Protection

Making an evacuation plan to deal with a shooter in an office building can only get you so far. Unless a plan has undergone testing and employees trained in its implementation, it is worth less than the paper it is printed on. As a matter of fact, that goes for just about any sort of plan a company might implement in the case of a disaster, according to a recent article by When testing a response plan, some crucial areas need overview. Take for example the above-mentioned shooter scenario.

The material first needs reviewing by all involved. A discussion should then occur that reviews what actions need to take place in any given situation. This includes any revisions to evacuation routes depending on the circumstances, largely dependent on where in the building the intrusion has taken place. Discuss a rendezvous point and make employees aware of them so everyone can be accounted for.

Employees and managers should also discuss what to do in the case of a shooter intruding into the workspace. If evacuation is not possible, then potential hiding locations should be determined and employees taught how to effectively barricade themselves within a room if necessary. Crisis managers need to go over the steps to remain hidden, such as turning off cell phone ringers, turning off the lights in the room, and locking the door, as well as barricading the door if time allows.

One thing that employees should not do if a shooter enters the office is pull the fire alarm. This could pull others, such as first responders into harm’s way. If possible, contact local authorities via phone and advise them of the situation so that they know what to expect going in.

If the intruder enters the company’s premises and no time is available to run or hide, employees may have to fight for their lives. Potential weapons to use include anything from letter openers to screwdrivers or pencils. Even hot coffee becomes a weapon to scald a shooter if necessary. When facing an attacker in the office, employees should treat such a confrontation as a life or death situation.

One final item for discussion includes what to do when law enforcement arrives on the scene. Crisis managers should stress the importance of complying with any law enforcement official’s demands. Most importantly, employees should stay out of the first responders’ way if the shooter or shooters are still in the area.

For more information about how to handle disaster situations, visit: