October 16, 2017
HR Question: Emergency Preparedness
Answer: Unfortunately, we live in an environment that requires all employers to think about, prepare for, and take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all employees in active shooter or other emergency situations. Therefore, it is important for employers to offer employees both training and action plans. Most security experts, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stress the following key points in response to active shooter preparedness:
- Have evacuation and emergency plans in place in all locations.
- Conduct drills and ensure that all employees are trained to be aware of the environments in which they work and to react quickly to evacuate the area in the event of an active shooter situation.
- Ensure that all employees know the locations of the exits nearest to their work areas.
- If evacuation is not possible, employees should know the locations of the best shelter areas and what to do, such as closing and locking the doors and windows immediately, turning off lights and silencing cell phones, establishing sturdy barricades that could possibly withstand gunshots, etc.
- If the situation allows, employees may be trained to take necessary steps to incapacitate the shooter (tackle the shooter or otherwise attempt to incapacitate).
- The simple advice is to run, hide, and as a last resort, fight.
Whenever possible, create your emergency action plans with assistance from local law enforcement authorities. The plan should include all of the following:
- Preferred method of contacting 911.
- Lockdown and evacuation plan.
- Contact information for local hospitals.
- Contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under your employee assistance plan, if applicable.
In all cases, preparing and having a plan for an active shooter or other emergency will help both employees and managers better prepare for dealing with such a high-stress situation. We also recommend preparing your plan in coordination with law enforcement to ensure best practices.
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