A client called me with an urgent request for advice. He works for a firm with locations in two cities, both in high rises.
He said his management had pounced on placing locks on every office and conference room door as their defense against an active shooter.
What management thinks of first
Employers often focus on locks as a defense against an active shooter. Locking and barricading doors is part of the Run-Hide-Fight response for an active shooter, which I recommend for planning and training.
But locks alone are not an adequate response for protecting your people from an active shooter. In addition to Run-Hide-Fight, there are two additional parts of the equation. I’ll cover them all in this three-part series.
Let’s start with the tactic my client’s management came up with: locks.
Locks help you HIDE
When running to escape isn’t possible, hiding is the next best response—preferably in a room with a door that can be locked.
Even though everyone instinctively knows how to lock a door, don’t underestimate paralysis when under fire.
An active shooter incident will unfold at lightning speed in terrifying conditions. As every veteran will tell you, you respond the way you’ve been trained.
Without training, the simple act of locking a door while scared spitless can be derailed by indecision over what to do, fear of exposing one’s location, or locks that don’t function correctly.
Too often, locks are useless
Whenever I conduct an active shooter workplace inspection, I always—always—find:
- Doors without locks
- Locks that don’t work
- Locks with latches taped to not engage, and
- Automatic locks that can’t be unlocked
Locks aren’t a 100 percent solution
Even when all locks are functioning, many employees work in spaces that can’t be locked. In addition, some personnel will be away from their work area when an active shooter strikes.
Everyone needs to be trained in how to respond when they are:
- Exposed in a cubicle farm, lunch room, hallway or other open space
- Trapped in a restroom
- Coming up in an elevator or stairwell
Barricade after locking doors
Whenever possible, doors should be barricaded as well as locked. Locks can be shot off. Your people need to be trained in this too.
Your workplace needs a comprehensive active shooter response
There is one fatal workplace shooting per week in our country (plus additional shootings without fatalities). Every workplace, including yours, is vulnerable to an overstressed employee, jealous domestic partner, vengeful ex-employee, and unstable client/customer/vendor.
You can’t stop crazy, but you can save lives and your organization by preparing your response to an active shooter incident. Locks are just one tactic in a comprehensive active shooter response.
911 Consulting Emergency Insight #1: The FBI and NYPD report the deadly phase of an active shooter is over in the first four to eight minutes, statistically before the police can arrive and deploy.
911 Consulting Emergency Insight #2: This means your people are the first responders. Police, fire and EMTs are the official responders. Your organization needs a comprehensive active shooter response, and all personnel need to be trained in Run-Hide-Fight.
911 Consulting Emergency Insight #3: You as the employer have to do more than put locks on doors. An assessment, response plan and training by an outside workplace security and safety expert is the only way to get this right.
Request & Question
- Let me know if this was helpful to you
- What is your management’s commitment to planning for an active shooter?
Next time: Active Shooter Response, Part 2: It Begins With Your Alert.