We talk a lot about preparedness here on the Invictus Consulting blog. Usually we talk about preparedness in the context of emergency planning for your company, school, organization, and your people. Today we’d like to talk about personal preparedness when you’re out and about in places other than your place of work or school.
Your place of employment may have a great active shooter plan, and you may have even drilled the plan multiple times. But what if you were at the grocery store during an active shooter event? Of course it’s possible that the grocery store has an active shooter plan, although there’s no guarantee they’ve drilled the plan or that the employees even know about the plan, not to mention the dozens of other shoppers in the store. Since you just never know if a store, cinema, restaurant, place of worship, etc. has an active shooter plan, it’s important to be prepared on your own to react to such an incident.
There are two major aspects of being personally prepared (wherever you go) to react to an active shooter situation: awareness and planning.
- Get into the habit of eyeballing the exits in the places you frequent – the grocery store, the Target, the movie theater, your place of worship, restaurants, your child’s school, their karate studio, or any public place you regularly visit
- Get into the habit of looking for anomalies in the environment – people who are dressed overtly inappropriate for the venue, people who are acting erratic, people who are conspicuously angry, etc.
- Stay alert when you are out and about in public places – this doesn’t mean you have to be on high alert at all points in time, but if you get into the habit of eyeballing exits and noticing people and situations that should be normal for a given location (and thus detecting abnormal people and situations) then your general situational awareness will increase over time
- Have a Family Communication Plan – you can print one out from ready.gov or the UMass Medical School or get guidance from the American Red Cross or the CDC so that your family members will know what to do in case one (or all) of you are faced with a crisis or disaster
- Get trained on active shooter scenarios and how to react – many communities have free active shooter training for civilians such as CRASE (Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events), ADD (Avoid, Deny, Defend), and local police department courses; search the internet to find such courses in your community and make use of them
- Print out and read active shooter resource materials from the Department of Homeland Security
- Search for your state’s readiness and preparedness website – many states have smartphone apps and community outreach programs to help citizens in preparedness
While your chances of begin in an active shooter situation are rare, doing some basic things to prepare yourself can go a long way in feeling less anxious. Remember, you can’t mitigate a threat you haven’t anticipated.