This post is part of the series, SmallBusiness.com Guide to Disaster Planning and Recovery: Information and resources for small business disaster planning and recovery. You can browse other posts in the series below.
While it is something no small business owner or manager wants to believe can happen to them, events ranging from armed robberies to large-scale tragedies like the shootings in Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and Orlando, force every business manager to consider the unthinkable can happen anywhere.
In many cases, there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter. These situations are, by their very nature, unpredictable and evolve quickly. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers free courses, materials, and workshops to better prepare businesses, schools, places of faith and any type of organization to deal with an active shooter situation and to raise awareness of behaviors that represent pre-incident indicators and characteristics of active shooters.
Active Shooter: What You Can Do
Homeland Security has developed an independent study course entitled Active Shooter: What You Can Do. This course was developed to provide the public with guidance on how to prepare for and respond to active shooter crisis situations.
Upon completion of Active Shooter: What You Can Do, employees and managers will be able to:
- Describe the actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and to assist responding law enforcement officials
- Recognize potential workplace violence indicators
- Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents; and
- Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident
The online training is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute.
A 90-minute Webinar can help small businesses and other organizations understand the importance of developing an emergency response plan and the need to train employees on how to respond if confronted with an active shooter. The presentation describes the three types of active shooters–workplace/school, criminal, and ideological–and how their planning cycles and behaviors differ.
Active Shooter workshops have already taken place in a number of U.S. cities and will continue to be held in a number of locations in the future. These scenario-based workshops feature facilitated discussions to engage company professionals and law enforcement representatives from federal, state, and local agencies to learn how to prepare for, and respond to, an active shooter situation. Through the course of the exercise, participants evaluate current response concepts, plans, and capabilities for coordinated responses to active shooter incidents.
If you are interested in future workshops, contact ASworkshop@hq.dhs.gov.
‘How to Respond’ Resource Materials
DHS has developed a series of materials to assist businesses, government offices, and schools in preparing for and responding to an active shooter. These products include a desk reference guide, a reference poster, and a pocket-size reference card.
Issues covered in the active shooter materials include the following:
- Profile of an active shooter
- Responding to an active shooter or other workplace violence situation
- Training for an active shooter situation and creating an emergency action plan
- Tips for recognizing signs of potential workplace violence
Available Materials for Download
- Active Shooter Preparedness Program Fact Sheet
- Active Shooter Booklet
- Active Shooter Pamphlet
- Active Shooter Poster
- Active Shooter Poster (Spanish)
- Active Shooter Pocket Card
- Active Shooter Pocket Card (Spanish)
- Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide
‘Options for Consideration’ (Preparedness Video)
Options for Consideration (below) demonstrates possible actions to take if confronted with an active shooter scenario. The video also shows how to assist authorities once law enforcement enters the scene. You may also access the video via YouTube.