Being prepared key to surviving workplace attack
Imagine this scenario: You arrive at work on a beautiful Monday morning and punch in at 8 a.m. You greet your co-workers and begin your day, making small talk with them about how the Bears played yesterday.
Shortly thereafter you hear what sounds like firecrackers going off on the second floor of your office. You quickly realize that the sounds are gunfire as fellow employees scramble down the stairs, screaming with looks of absolute horror on their faces. Someone yells "RUN."
You literally freeze as you begin to realize an active shooter is in the building. You want to move but your legs are frozen, not knowing what to do at that exact moment.
Then you remember the training that human resources held several months ago -- "Run-Hide-Fight!" Suddenly you find the strength to run toward the back door and out onto the dock, and you don't stop running until you are two blocks away from the building.
Although only a few minutes have passed, it seems like hours to you. As police sirens fill the air, it takes you another couple of minutes to realize you just survived an active shooter attack.
Workplace violence continues to grow in the United States. In 2019, 412 mass shootings occurred in this country, and roughly 80 percent of all active shooter incidents occur in the workplace.
Unfortunately, workplace violence events show no sign of slowing down, so it is absolutely critical to prepare accordingly. To determine your readiness, ask yourself two simple questions: Are you prepared to act if there is an active shooter in your workplace? Does your organization have active shooter response plans in place?
If you answered "no" to either of these questions, it's important to get that training.
You can start the process by signing up for the Workplace Violence Assessment and Response class taking place at the Homeland Security Training Institute from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at College of DuPage.
Once you have a response plan in place, you must practice the plan on a regular basis. I am familiar with organizations that have a response plan but do not practice it effectively. Don't be this company.
You should know exactly where to go if an active shooter is present in your organization. You should always ask yourself: Can I get out safely? If not, you may need to find a place to hide until the active shooter event is over. If you must hide, determine where to hide long before an event takes place. Don't lose precious time during an active shooter event looking for a hiding place.
And, as a last resort -- fight back. Don't let the shooter decide how your life will end. Be proactive and use any tools or equipment to fight the attacker with all of your strength.
This "Run-Hide-Fight!" response, as created by the Houston Police Department, is what we teach at the Homeland Security Training Institute.
Active Shooter incidents in the workplace last for an average of five minutes or less, and every employee should know exactly where to go if an active shooter is present in your organization. Prior planning can save your life when seconds count, because you can survive an active shooter attack!
To register for this course, please go to www.cod.edu/hsti.
•Tom Brady is associate dean/director of the Homeland Security Training Institute at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn