Safety and OSHA News

Active shooter in the building! How will workers respond?

Do employees at your workplace know what to do if someone started shooting inside your building?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has gathered materials with recommendations for businesses.

One booklet (PDF) gives advice on how to respond if an active shooter is in the vicinity, in order of preferred response:

  1. Evacuate. Get out of the building. Employees should be familiar with multiple exit routes. Call 911 once you’re safely outside and away from the shooter.
  2. Hide. If you can’t get out of the building, find a place to hide where the shooter is less likely to find you. If possible, use a room in which you can lock the door. Blockade the door with heavy furniture. Silence your cell phone. Hide behind any large items. Remain quiet. If you can make a 911 call without the shooter hearing you, do so. If you can’t, dial 911 and leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what’s going on.
  3. Take action against the shooter. As a last resort, and only when your life in is immediate danger, attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by: throwing items and improvising weapons; acting as aggressively as possible against the shooter; yelling.

Employees should also know what to expect when law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow officers’ instructions.
  • Officers may shout commands and push people to the ground for their safety.
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers.
  • Be prepared to give information to officers about: the location of the shooter, number of shooters, shooter’s physical description, types of weapons the shooter has and number of potential victims in the building.
  • The first officers won’t stop to help the injured. Officers who arrive after the first group will attend to them.
  • You will likely be told to stay in a safe location until the situation is under control.

The DHS Active Shooter Preparedness webpage also has links to online training, a webinar, a video, related research and other resources for trainers.

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