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Active Shooter in the Workplace

Think back to your growing-up days. Do you remember the three-step mantra taught by the firefighters during fire safety presentations? Can you recite the instruction that everyone was to follow if they happened to be involved in a fire?

Stop, Drop, and Roll.

It became ingrained in many of our minds and retained into adulthood. Now fast forward to today. Businesses are 18 times more likely to experience workplace violence than a fire at work, according to the e-learning firm Skill Educators. And 70% of active shooter incidents occur at offices rather than a school campus or elsewhere. It’s time for a new mantra. If you ask Homeland Security, it’s:

Run, Hide, Fight.

Now, many of us never had to stop, drop, and roll. And odds are that most of us won’t have to choose whether to run, or hide, or fight. But employers can take a step in the right direction by creating prevention protocols, reporting and response procedures, and organizing a team to spearhead this and train staff.

Most active shooter situations last about 10-15 minutes long, so it’s key to be prepared to handle the time before law enforcement shows up.

Run, Forrest, run!


  • Know your escape route and be ready to take it
  • Leave the darn purse or man-bag behind!
  • Go – even if others won’t

Hide, baby, hide!


  • Find places that don’t trap you
  • Block and lock. Use furniture as a blockade or lock the door.
  • Silence the cell phone – we’re talking airplane mode, people!

The first rule of Fight Club…


  • Act as aggressive as possible
  • Throw items or improvise weapons
  • Yell and don’t back down

Practicing drills and creating an emergency action plan should be as routine as the fire drills we grew up with. Managers and designated crisis team leaders should have floor plans, keys, and personnel lists with phone numbers.

Comprehensive emergency action plans will raise awareness and cover procedures for dealing with a shooter situation. Preparing for those first ten minutes before law enforcement shows up can be critical. It is the employees, after all, that are the first responders.

Where to start?

Have your employees watch the Homeland Security video. Additional reading and guides can also pave the way.