To date, the most horrifying workplace shooting took place in 1986 at a United States post office in Edmond, Oklahoma. This incident inspired the phrase “going postal”, which left 15 dead, 6 injured and a bad memory everyone wants to forget.
A mass shooting is commonly defined as an event or incident where 4 or more people are injured or killed (this defers by source though). It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of workplace rampage, but most frequently than not, this often leads to resentful employees. In some cases it even involved workers with mental issues.
Mass Shootings in USA
According to Statista.com, in the United States, the majority of shootings are carried out by male assailants, and only 3 are perpetrated by the opposite sex since 1982. And what’s interesting to know is, weapons used in these mass shootings were legally acquired. The findings also show only 16 incidents that involved illegal weapons since 1982.
More Recent Workplace Shootout
The shootout in YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California left 3 injured and a woman dead. Another one, also in California, shooting at a law office saw two fatalities and the same month, a gunman killed himself after taking 2 lives in a Houston workplace shooting.
Now this is the disturbing news, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics in a recent report shows that workplace shooting actually went up a whopping 17.5% from 2017 to 2016. That’s 83 more incidents that total up to 394 shootings which also work out to 79% of workplace homicides for the year 2016.
How To Survive A Workplace Shootout?
With the increased statistics, employees and employers are advised to always be prepared for this possible occurrence. There are three things that you can do in light of the worst shooting scenario, and they are; either hideout, get out or if possible take the shooter out.
These shooting situations normally happen abruptly and are mostly unpredictable, so you have to think and act swiftly to protect yourself. There are organizations that encourage training for their staff in handling workplace shooting situations. This is a good preventive measure that all employees should look into and participate in.
Most established businesses have their own security teams that run periodic drills to keep employees on their toes in shooting preparedness and about unsafe scenarios. Diego Redondo, a former FBI special agent had once said that there is no set number of drills that have to be carried out. Nevertheless, they should at least take place as often as fire drills do.
It’s a good idea to ask your HSE Manager if your company has a workplace shooting drill in place. If there’s none, then one must take place as soon as possible and should be included in the yearly safety training.
As soon as you receive news of an active shooting in your company premises, the rule of thumb is to get out of there immediately. That is the first thing you should do.
Three Steps To Take In A Workplace Shooting Situation:
As I have mentioned earlier and am saying it again, your best option is to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. And that is why it’s important that you have a plan and an escape route in place in case this happens.
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan…you plan to fail.
Now, this would require you to familiarize with your company’s building floor plan and all the critical emergency exits closest to you. Only through this preparation and planning, can you properly exercise your escape plan. This will require a bit of work from your end, but it’s all worth it for your emergency preparedness.
A simple way to test your preparedness is to ask yourself; “if I had to escape right now, what would I do?” If you can’t answer that, then you are in trouble.
The DHS emergency response guide insists that you help the people around you if possible. But remember, you shall proceed to evacuate even if your colleagues refuse to follow you. This is because you need to get out of there ASAP to be safe.
In the scenario where you can’t escape, the next best thing to do is to hide and avoid being seen by the shooter. You also need to find a hideout that offers protection against stray bullets that may be headed towards you.
Avoid hiding behind partitions or wooden cabinets that bullets can easily penetrate and strike you. When you are hiding, always look for a space that offers concealment as well as protection. A good example would be behind a metal door or metal wall in your office that would offer good coverage.
Again, choosing the perfect hiding space also requires planning and studying the office layout as well. You must be able to barricade yourself in this space or the least, make it difficult for the shooter.
If your office doors swing inwards, get hold of doorstops to prevent the shooter from entering. And if you have doors that swing outwards, then you need to come out with other means to hide, or choose an office with a door that swings inwards. Once you’ve found a good hideout stay there and do not come out until help arrives.
Very importantly, make sure your phone is in the silenced mode and not make calls when the shooter is in the rampage. In most cases, the shooters want to kill as many people as they can, unless there is a specific target in mind. So, they normally go about shooting and quickly move on or in some cases, they commit suicide after the shooting.
You do not want to give up your location with an incoming call or text.
The last thing you want to do is to fight the shooter unless your life is threatened. The simple reason being, he has a gun and you don’t…well in most cases that is. Even if you do have a gun with you, you must be ready to shoot to kill. Are you?
Do not go looking for the shooter to take him down, unless you are professionally trained and have your gun and gear with you. Otherwise, leave this to the experts and only interact with the shooter when you have no choice but to do so, to save yourself.
Now this brings me to the shootout incident at Parkland high school in February. The shooter actually attacked individuals from room to room, sparing no one. Here, the ex-DHS chief of staff advised to take down the shooter.
He explained that in a life and death situation as this, you should find a way to immobilize the shooter when there is chance.
Look at your surrounding and arm yourself with that is readily available is a good idea. It can be a bottle, a fire extinguisher, a chair or even a decently sized paper weight. If there is a group of you, then bring down the shooter in a group, using the weapons you have found to disarm him and throw him off. Inject the element of surprise and not do it the “martial arts style”.
Always remember that he is armed and dangerous.
The DHS Emergency Response Guide…
Also suggests taking out the shooter “as aggressively as possible”. This will not only surprise the shooter, but also ads the element of panic and confusion to his reaction. Also, planning is key here.
Finally, having a workplace shooting emergency plan and strategy not only saves you time, it also increases your success rate in surviving the incident.
I hope this article has been helpful and if you have anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment. And please share this blog with a friend that you think would benefit from this information.