Beyond Run, Hide, Fight: What 3 Recent Active Shooter Incidents Taught Us About Being Prepared

By Lowers & Associates,

Beyond Run, Hide, Fight

Active shooter incidents have become a new normal in our society. As of Sept 24, 2019, there had been an average of 1.24 mass shootings per day in 2019, killing 377 people and injuring another 1,347 victims.

“Run. Hide. Fight®” has been the mantra of training set down by the Department of Homeland Security. We are instructed to run and escape if possible; hide if escape is not possible, and fight as an absolute last resort. While this run, hide, fight mantra offers a lot of value to give people a course of action and to help them feel more confident and prepared in the event of an active shooter scenario, there is more to the equation when it comes to prevention and preparation. It’s time to face this fact.

Here, we look at three recent incidents that should serve to remind organizations that there is much more to consider.

Historic District in Dayton, Ohio

In the early hours of August 4, 2019, a 24-year old gunman with an AR-15-style assault rifle and 250 rounds of ammunition killed nine people and injured another 27 in the Oregon Historic District of Dayton, Ohio. The perpetrator was killed by police within 32 seconds of the first shots. A search of the shooter’s home uncovered evidence of his obsession with violence and that he had expressed a desire to commit a mass shooting.

The organization Childhood Preparedness, which provides resources for early childhood professionals with emergency preparedness planning, response, and recovery, formed the following takeaways from both the Dayton shooting and the El Paso shooting, which happened in the same weekend.

Lessons Learned:

Active Threat Training Saved Lives: Dayton law enforcement agencies received previous training in active shooter response, and their quick action saved countless lives.

Citizen Training Is Important: The key to citizen survival in both the Dayton event and other mass shootings was to quickly identify the sound of gunshots.

Running Is Always an Option: In this situation, running was, in fact, a good idea. Running from the gunfire to a safe location away from the shooter helped save some lives. However, some individuals froze and needed to be prompted by others to run. Individuals who chose to lay on the floor suffered multiple injuries and were trampled by others running from the area.

Stop The Bleed Training Can Help: Participants at the scene aided first responders by treating the wounded with basic first aid, CPR, and even applying tourniquets, such as belts, to the wounded. Tourniquet use is a crucial element of Stop The Bleed Training, which teaches bystanders how to stop severe bleeding before professional medical help arrives on the scene.

Townville Elementary School

On September 28, 2016, in a small town 40 miles outside of Greenville, South Carolina, a fourteen-year-old opened fire at Townville Elementary School playground, shooting three students and a teacher. One of the students, a six-year-old boy, later died, as did the shooter’s father, who had been killed earlier in the day by his son. The suspect was apprehended by a volunteer firefighter after his gun jammed on the playground, just 12 seconds after he first pulled the trigger.

Dr. Joanne Avery, Superintendent of the district, candidly shared her experiences in dealing with the immediate response to the shooting and its aftermath, in a School Safety Webinar sponsored by Raptor entitled, Lessons Learned and Changes We Made After an Active Shooting.

Lessons Learned:

Quick Response is Crucial:  The majority of active shooter events, 69%, end in five minutes or less and 67% are over before the first police arrive. “Speedily moving towards engagement with the shooter should be the primary guideline when teaching active shooter response tactics,” according to the FBI’s report, A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the US Between 2000 and 2013.

Shooters Do Their Research:  Active shooters study and learn from past events in order to inflict the largest amount of damage. “They want their events to be deadlier” and that “they’re on the clock…so they try to get as much damage done as quickly as they can.”

Rural Areas Are Not Immune:  The majority of school shootings have occurred in semi-rural and rural areas, which means it can take between 12 and 15 minutes for first responders to arrive.  Dr. Avery says this is one of the reasons her school was chosen by the shooter.

Create a Drill Calendar:  Have regular active shooter response training with employees and (in the case of schools) students. Create different types of scenarios (e.g., lockdowns, times of day, types of weapons used, outside vs inside).

Know How to Lock Down: You need to be able to have things in place to inform people within the building about the shooter’s whereabouts and a clear evacuation plan. In some situations, training on how to confront the shooter may be warranted.

Dr. Avery stresses that “the first action that anybody should make if they see an active shooter on campus is…to shout ‘lockdown’, call the front office, and then call 911.”

Las Vegas Country Music Festival

On October 1, 2017, between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m., a shooter opened fire from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers at an outdoor music festival. Firing more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition, he killed 58 people and wounded 422; a total of 851 people were injured during the panic that ensued. The shooter, a 64-year-old man, was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His motive remains officially undetermined.

In July 2019, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released a comprehensive After Action Review report about the event, which included a set of 93 recommendations to prepare for the future.

Lessons Learned:

Plan Ahead with Partners: Work with local government and community organizations, including neighboring police, fire, hospital, and coroner officials, to be better prepared and have a more coordinated response.

Become Less of a Target: Responding officers should remove reflective vests so that they are less of a target to shooters.

Have Trauma Kits On-Hand: For large scale events, have more trauma kits on hand available to paramedics and other responders.

Secure High-Rise Buildings: Secure high-rise buildings that oversee open-air crowds and train more officers to stop a shooter in an elevated position.

If we’ve learned one thing from these devastating incidents, it’s that preparation is key. Whether it’s understanding the sounds of gunfire, having trauma kits on hand, or even being prepared to attack and take down a gunman, these actions save lives. Acting quickly and decisively means all the difference.

Every active shooter scenario will be different, but the point is that organizations must have some level of preparedness for each phase of a shooting event – before, during, and after. Those strategies should include:

  • reducing the likelihood of a workplace shooting through comprehensive risk mitigation (e.g., threat assessments, training, physical security);
  • having response plans in place in the event of an active shooter scenario (e.g., evacuation routes, communication with law enforcement); and
  • managing the aftermath of an event (e.g., employee support, public communications).

Once in place, plans must be continually updated, drills practiced, and changes communicated regularly.

Keeping your employees, customers and other stakeholders safe and your business protected is a 24/7/365 endeavor. To learn more, download our latest whitepaper, “Coming to Grips with the Known-Known of Active Shooter Incidents.”

Black Swans: How to Prepare for Low-Probability, High-Impact Events

By Lowers & Associates,

Black Swans: How to Prepare for Low-Probability, High-Impact Events

Risk management is a top priority for businesses that seek to avoid or minimize potential losses. Often, their efforts are focused on the threats that are most likely to transpire and could result in the most significant damages, those “high-probability, high-impact” events such as product liability lawsuits or employee theft. These organizations direct an inordinate amount of their attention to the upper right quadrant of the Risk Impact/Probability Chart because they believe, understandably, that these will be resources well spent.

But what about the oft-overlooked lower right quadrant of risk management, those “low-probability, high-impact” events? Consider human-caused or natural disasters like tsunamis, active shooters, stock market crashes, or major oil spills. These events, dubbed Black Swan events by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, while infrequent in occurrence, have massive economic consequences that extend well beyond the initial point of impact.

In this blog, we present three strategies to help businesses mitigate their risks and gain control over the scope of loss should a ‘Black Swan’ incident happen.

1. Conduct Scenario-based Planning

Scenario-based planning is different than its more common counterpart, strategic planning. “Scenario planning attempts to capture the richness and range of possibilities, stimulating decision-makers to: consider changes they would otherwise ignore,” noted economist Paul J.H. Shoemaker in his paper, Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking.

Shoemaker uses the following to illustrate his point:

When Brigadier General Billy Mitchell proposed early in the 20th century that airplanes might sink battleships by dropping bombs on them, U.S. Secretary of War Newton Baker remarked, “That idea is so damned nonsensical and impossible that I’m willing to stand on the bridge of a battleship while that nitwit tries to hit it from the air.”

In scenario planning, managers don’t just brainstorm scenarios based on their current experiences, which can lead to overconfidence and tunnel vision, but rather “construct a series of scenarios that can expand their imaginations to see a wider range of possible futures.” They need to find a balance in planning for specific known events and those that are rare or unexpected and then identify commonalities that are relevant to both kinds of disruptions. This provides a better long-term perspective and forces companies to be proactive, rather than reactive, in mitigating potential threats.

Examples of Black Swan Events

2. Carry Out a Threat Assessment

Once an organization has identified a set of likely commonalities from high-impact events, it must conduct threat assessments against them. If we have a retail presence and a tornado suddenly wipes out the entire area around our business, do we know how we’ll proceed? How can customers buy from us when our store no longer exists? Do our employees know our emergency preparedness protocols? If any of our suppliers were also impacted by the tornado, do we have other backup options? Do we have a disaster recovery plan? What about business interruption insurance? How will we notify the public, our lenders and suppliers, and other stakeholders about the status of our situation?

The assessment should cover, at a minimum, the following areas:

  • Human Safety
  • Immediate Physical Damage
  • Long-term Disruptions (Supply Chain, Lenders)
  • Communication (Law Enforcement, Victims, Employees, Bystanders)
  • Reputation Management
  • Overall Business Continuity Plan

3. Prepare a Comprehensive Situation Response

Much, but not all of the needed responses to a high-impact event will have been identified during the threat assessment. It’s essential that management teams don’t simply stop at the threat identification phase, however, but that they take the next step of creating and disseminating those plans, keep them up-to-date, and review or practice them regularly.

Strategies around each of the threat areas above should be developed. For example, employee lists and associated contact information need to be current and accessible. Evacuation drills need to be practiced. Redundant, offsite data storage needs to be in place. Buildings need to be brought up to code and made secure.

Because ‘Black Swan’ events are characterized by high uncertainty, it may be challenging for businesses to quantify their likely economic impact. For this reason, the authors of the book, Dynamic Risk Analysis in the Chemical and Petroleum Industry, recommend that “the notions of cost and benefit need to be broadened.” They advise using “a disproportion (adjustment) factor…in favor of safety” when quantitative data is unavailable.

Planning for the Unknown

Writer Alan Gleeson sums up the low-probability, high-impact planning dilemma well in his article, Why Planning Becomes More Important with Uncertainty. “Since time immemorial, people have sought to predict the future. Until the emergence of the relatively modern concept of ‘risk’ and the development of probability theory in the 17th century, predictions about the future had traditionally been the preserve of soothsayers such as Nostradamus. … All these years later, and despite our progress, we still lack the ability to predict the future. Nevertheless, by considering various risks and probabilities, we can aim to understand some likely future scenarios to a greater degree.”

If your organization seeks strategies for mitigating risk and planning for ‘Black Swan’ events, please contact Lowers & Associates.

Early Identification: Key to Effective Risk Management

By Lowers & Associates,

Risk practitioners tend to categorize risks based on the level of knowledge about the occurrence (known or unknown) and the level of knowledge about the impact (known or unknown).[1]  Known risks can be prioritized by level of impact and likelihood of occurrence and a plan forms accordingly. … Continue reading

  Category: Risk Management
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[Infographic] The Impact of Workplace Violence

By Lowers & Associates,

workplace violence infographic

Violence in the workplace undeniably affects the individuals who are directly attacked. But the impact also extends far beyond these direct victims to co-workers, clients, executives, shareholders and even out to the community. There are direct losses related to medical bills, workers’ comp and legal fees, as well as indirect losses reflected in diminished productivity, low morale and negative publicity – all of which can damage a company’s reputation long-term. The impact is extensive and can carry a tremendous cost.

“It is not just the victims, who are injured… the workplace also pays a price with disengaged performance and increased health risks… It is imperative, to the business bottom-line, that employees are protected…” — The Roadmap to Mental Health and Excellence at Work, 2005

Prevention is key.

Learn about what constitutes workplace violence, who is at the greatest risk, and what can be done to proactively predict, prevent, and quickly recover from incidents in our latest infographic.

… Continue reading

Why Hope is Not a Risk Management Strategy

By Lowers & Associates,

Low-probability, high-impact events are something that most individuals and organizations would rather ignore. After all, chances are it won’t happen to you. Serious workplace violence events, active shooter incidents, and other unsavory threats are on the rise but it’s easier to assume it will happen to someone else. We don’t want to think about our own mortality or that of our organizations. Instead, we hope it won’t happen to us, to our employees, to our customers, or to our communities.

But then there are these facts:

  • 18% of all crimes committed occur in the workplace
  • Jury awards in workplace violence cases typically run in the millions of dollars
  • 70% of active shooter incidents occur in business or educational environments
  • Workplace violence is the number one cause of workplace fatalities for women

… Continue reading