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Active Shooter Training: Why It’s Needed
Active Shooter Training has become an integral part of safety and security planning for schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations, and should be built into Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) for every facility in America. Like fire drills, active shooter training helps students, teachers, law enforcement, business administrators, and employees prepare for the unthinkable, giving them a clear plan of action if faced with an active shooter threat—however unlikely.
Even as mass shootings remain statistically rare, the possibility of them occurring has increased drastically over the past two decades. Since 2014, there have been over 3,942 mass shootings—or shooting events defined as four or more people (including the shooter) injured or killed.
2021 set a new record for mass shootings with 691 across America, and 2022 isn’t far behind with 548 recorded and still two months left in the year. The numbers are staggering—and alarming—which is why active shooter training has become so commonplace.
- The average Active Shooter event lasts 4-8 minutes
- Over 70% of Active Shooter incidents are over in 5 minutes or less
- The national average for Law Enforcement response is 5-6 minutes, with some estimates in the 12-15 minute range
That means in normal circumstances, without proactive security efforts, a mass shooting can occur and be over before law enforcement has a chance to respond. Learning about these incidents and how to prepare can help save your life and the lives of others.
Active Shooter Training In Schools
A study of 160 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013 found that shootings in educational institutions, such as in the Sandy Hook, Newtown Connecticut, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University shootings, have sadly been deadlier than mass shootings elsewhere.
These events are why Active Shooter Training is the most commonplace in schools across America today. While many make the argument that school shootings are statistically rare, the numbers are startling:
- Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, more than 311,000 students in the United States have been affected by gun-related violence while at school.
- In 2021, there were more school shootings than any prior year—42 in total
- So far, in 2022, there have been at least 140 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, leaving 46 dead and 111 injured.
- Last year, firearms surpassed car crashes to become the leading cause of death of children and teens in America.
“I’m not sure I can send my 8-year-old to school after the Texas shooting rampage.”
Active Shooter Training Practice in Schools
In addition to the Active Shooter planning PDF download that we’ll cover later in this article, schools should train staff, students, and teachers using the “Run, Hide, Fight” methodology for active shooter response.
RUN – Evacuate the Building as Quickly as Possible
Train your teachers and students to recognize the sound of gunshots, and develop at least two evacuation routes for them to take, depending on the direction of the gunfire. Post-evacuation routes throughout the schools. Train your teaching staff to respond immediately and to leave their belongings behind. Identify students and others who may need help during an evacuation.
HIDE – Hide Out of Sight from the Shooter
Train your teachers and students on appropriate ways to hide if evacuation is not an option. This depends upon your schools and classrooms. You may want to create safe spaces in areas of your office that may be difficult to evacuate.
The goals: be out of the shooter’s view; provide protection from shots fired (closed and locked door, sturdy furniture); prevent or slow down the shooter’s entrance to the area by blockading with heavy furniture or other appropriate means, depending on the location. Train your teaching staff also to silence their cell phones and students to remain absolutely quiet.
FIGHT – as the Last Resort
As a last resort, if steps 1 and 2 are not possible, train your teaching staff to have a survivor mentality—throw things at the shooter the moment they see you; attack if possible. Try to be as aggressive and frightening as possible. Shooters don’t expect resistance. A moment of disorientation may be all your people need to take the shooter down.
Adding Another Layer of Security to Schools
While active shooter training in schools, unfortunately, remains necessary, parents, teachers, and students aren’t convinced that training alone will help deter active shooter threats in our schools.
- In a survey by the National Education Association, 60% of teachers said they are worried that there could be a mass shooting in their school.
- 63% of K-12 teachers reported they don’t think their schools aren’t adequately prepared for an active shooter crisis, even though 71% reported that their school conducts training for students and staff to prepare for the possibility of a mass shooter event.
- In a 2022 survey, school teachers and administrators reported that they feel less safe at their schools than they did five years ago.
- 63% of parents of teenagers and 57% of teen students are worried about a shooting happening at their school.
It’s clear that active shooter training—while important in a crisis situation—isn’t enough to prevent these tragedies, or make students, parents or teachers feel safer about being in school.
Schools such as Oxford High School in Michigan, which experienced a school shooting in November of 2021 that left four dead and seven injured, have turned to ZeroEyes’ A.I. gun detection technology to help identify active shooter threats faster and reduce response times from law enforcement.
Helpful Active Training Resources for Schools
The ‘Run, Hide, Fight” active shooter response method discussed above can be applied to educational institutions across K-12 and higher education. To keep these tips top of mind, download and print ZeroEyes’ Active Shooter Response Infographic for use in your schools.
Plus, it’s important to ensure your schools are as secure as possible from a variety of threats to students and teachers, including an active shooter. Are there missing gaps in your campus security plan? Use this checklist to plan and protect your students and faculty.
Active Shooter Training In The Workplace
Since 2006, over 75% of workplace mass shootings have occurred at commercial businesses. From office buildings to car washes, beauty salons, grocery stores, and big-box retailers, no commercial property is safe from the threat of gun-related violence that has become so commonplace in our country.
As a business leader, it’s your duty to provide a safe and secure work environment for employees and a safe experience for customers.
Duty of Care laws are designed to keep people safe in public places by taking steps necessary to protect both employees and customers from potential dangers—from everyday precautions like wet floor signs to more involved preparations like response plans for natural disasters and active shooter incidents.
All publicly-accessible locations in the U.S., from office buildings to public spaces, are bound by these laws. Failure to meet the requirements can lead to negligence lawsuits, potentially resulting in damages payouts to impacted customers and employees.
Preventing an active shooter situation with A.I. gun detection technology like ZeroEyes helps to bring your employees and customers peace of mind at your business. However, when an active shooter enters your office, your employees and security team need to know exactly what to do to protect themselves and others.
Not having a plan is a worst-case scenario that can lead to disaster.
Active Shooter Prevention for Office Buildings
For the most part, active shooters don’t choose their locations randomly. They research to determine what site is vulnerable, often surveilling the location to watch for holes in security or protocols, and then plan their attack.
Try to deter shooters from choosing your office as a place for an attack.
Do a security vulnerability assessment to determine your security strengths and weaknesses. Immediately set about strengthening your vulnerable areas, whether they are in technology, security, personnel, or physical space.
Just a few of the steps you should take, depending on the results of your vulnerability assessment, may include:
- Enhancing your security camera system to cover all entry and exit points, and equipping the system with a gun detection system such as ZeroEyes.
- Eliminating hiding places or obstacles that limit visibility for security cameras or staff.
- Enhancing onsite security personnel.
- Implementing lockdown procedures.
- Developing detailed security protocols.
- Training your security and staff thoroughly.
- If possible, add remote locking features to lock down wings to keep the shooter out.
Reach out to your local law enforcement or to an independent, professional security consultant for help with a detailed vulnerability assessment and security upgrade. Avoid a consultant who represents a particular product, as the consultant may not give you completely independent advice based on your real needs.
Active Shooter Training For Hospitals
Hospitals can be dangerous places, and healthcare professionals are no strangers to violence in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics teaming with researchers from Brown and Johns Hopkins Universities studied 154 hospital-related shootings between 2000 and 2011.
Hospital shootings occur all too often, and the statistics are alarming:
- High-Risk Locations: Of the 154 gun violence incidents in hospitals from 2000-2011, 59% took place inside the hospital, including 29% in the emergency department (ED) and 19% in hospital rooms. That means that in more than half the incidents, a gun got inside the hospital undetected; the remainder took place on the grounds, with 23% in the parking lot.
- Motives Behind Shootings: The motives vary, but most shooters have strong and intentional motives: most have a grudge (27%), such as the man who killed his late mother’s doctor in Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2015; other shootings are to “euthanize” a relative (14%), commit suicide (21%), or escape from custody (4%).
- Victims: While 45% of the victims are the shooters themselves (which may include suicide, suicide after shooting others, or being shot by first responders), hospital employees compose 20% of the victims.
Healthcare executives and security teams must develop security protocols that prevent guns from entering the facility, and have comprehensive active shooter training and response when potential threats are present. Security cameras installed strategically inside and outside the premises, especially in the ED, entrance areas, and parking lots, will help your on-site security keep an eye on the most vulnerable areas.
What’s more, hospital security administrators need to implement emergency preparedness plans for locking down various floors, units, sensitive equipment, or controlled substances, and train staff on evacuation procedures, patient protection, and safe locations in the event of a shooting.
Active Shooter Training For Churches & Houses of Worship
Houses of worship are supposed to be safe havens where believers can practice their faith in peace — yet, there has been an alarming trend in recent years of mass shootings targeting faith-based organizations.
These statistics are unsettling:
- Before 1963 there were no reported mass shootings at churches or houses of worship, yet in 2022 alone there have been four in Christian churches.
- In a recent survey conducted by Lifeway Research, only 62% of pastors reported having an emergency response plan in the event of an active shooter threat.
- While 80% of those pastors say they have some type of security in place, only 23% of pastors reported armed security personnel onsite.
- Only 28% of churches report having any radio communication between security personnel.
Church leadership should take measures to prevent being a target of a hate-based crime:
- Get Expert Recommendations: Contact your local first responders for recommendations on active shooter training for churches and houses of worship.
- Create Security Plans and Protocols: With the help of your local law enforcement, know how to respond to threats—conduct a vulnerability assessment and emergency action plan.
- Increase Your Security Measures: This includes contract security guards, closed-circuit security cameras, access/entry codes, and security fences.
Church leadership may be apprehensive about adding drastic security measures to their house of worship. Security measures such as armed guards and metal detectors can create an uninviting environment for church members, which is why it’s so vitally important to have regular active shooter training to protect your administrators and visitors.
While a multi-layered security approach is important, church and house of worship leaders should consider more proactive, non-invasive security measures such as A.I. gun detection technology from ZeroEyes.
Active Shooter Training for Retail Businesses
The first retail shooting of the modern era took place in 1966 on a beauty school campus in Mesa, Arizona. Since then, there have been more than 30 shootings at retail locations across the United States, with dozens of people left dead as a result. The deadliest store shooting occurred in 2019 in El Paso, Texas, which claimed the lives of 22 people.
The mass shooting crisis is a growing epidemic and a uniquely American problem, with more than half of the retail mass shootings between 1966 and 2020 occurring in the past 14 years.
Business owners need to take proactive solutions to curb gun violence at their retail outlets. This includes implementing Emergency Action Plans and active shooting training for store employees and security teams and installing security cameras complete with integrated AI gun detection software to recognize guns and alert the authorities before any shots are fired.
Emergency Action Plans (EAP) for Small, Medium, and Large Commercial Retail Businesses
The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies, such as an active shooter event. Create an EAP specifically for active shooter events to help keep staff and customers safer if faced with that situation. We’ll show you what should go into your EAP later in this article.
EAPs for Small to Medium-Sized Retail & Grocery Stores
Develop a detailed EAP and have your employees practice it regularly so it will be second nature if they ever need it.
The EAP should inform staff on emergency escape procedures and route assignments (e.g., floor plans and safe areas), including where to go and how to evacuate when the primary evacuation routes are unusable. The main goal in smaller spaces is to get as many people as far away from the threat as possible, exit when necessary, and shelter in place in safe spaces. Employees should assist others to safety if at all possible.
The EAP training should also clearly explain shelter-in-place and lockdown procedures, including the differences between the two. Employees should know that if they can’t evacuate, to cover and hide. They need to leave all personal belongings behind, find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and if possible, put a solid barrier between themselves and the threat and lock the doors.
Personnel involved in EAP planning should ensure all sheltering sites and evacuation routes are accessible for persons with disabilities.
EAPs for Large Retail Spaces, including Shopping Malls
Implement EAP procedures that include evacuation, shelter-in-place, hide, and lockdown policies for large offices and facilities. Your security teams should be well-versed in evacuation measures for large crowds to avoid panic and should be prepared to assist in pointing masses to exit points and, if necessary, safe hiding locations.
Optimal “safe” locations have ballistic protection known as “cover” which includes thick walls made of steel, cinder block, or brick and mortar; solid doors with locks; and areas with minimal glass and interior windows. These areas can be stocked with accessible first aid and emergency kits designed for hemorrhage control, communication devices, and telephones or duress alarms.
Designated “shelter-in-place” locations are often designed for natural hazards (earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.) and may not be ideal for active shooter incidents. Facilities and/or agencies should consider the development of safe rooms when selecting or renewing a leased facility or new construction. Personnel involved in such planning should ensure all sheltering sites and evacuation routes are accessible for persons with disabilities.
Develop and Practice Your Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
The “backup plan” is just as critical as the strong offense: train your staff on what to do if a shooter does make it into your building.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. This is why ZeroEyes includes real-time information transmission to your on-site security personnel, administrators, and first responders, so they know exactly what is happening while it is happening and can respond as quickly as possible to neutralize the threat and mitigate injury or loss of life. But your people need to know what to do in the frightening minutes before the shooter is stopped.
Develop a detailed emergency action plan and have your staff practice regularly so it will be second nature if they ever need it. How they respond can depend on the situation, so they need to know their options and how to apply them. The options are Run, Hide, and Fight, in order of preference. Develop your plan with the input of multiple stakeholders: staff representatives, human resources personnel, facility owner or operator, property manager, and local law enforcement.
Conduct mock active shooter training exercises, preferably with first responders, so that both your staff and your local law enforcement are familiar with the steps and your facility. You could even invite local law enforcement to use your offices in their own training sessions, so they will have in-depth familiarity with your facilities. As an added bonus, if a potential shooter is watching your building and sees police activity, he will likely choose another location.
Reach out to us here at ZeroEyes for an evaluation of how our A.I. gun detection technology and real-time intel systems can enhance your security and help keep your people safe.
How to Respond When Law Enforcement Arrives to an Active Shooter Emergency
What to Expect:
- Officers usually arrive in teams of four or more and may be in regular patrol uniforms or tactical gear.
- Officers will be armed and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
- Officers may shout commands and push individuals to the ground for your safety.
- Screaming, pointing or yelling to prevent confusion
- Making any quick movements toward officers
- Remain calm and follow the instructions of law enforcement
- Put down any items in your hands, raise them, and spread your fingers
Active Shooter Training Scenarios
So what should go into a successful Active Shooter Training drill? Inviting and coordinating with local law enforcement for a live active shooter scenario drill, and following training methods such as the ALICE training method of emergency response (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) will give you the valuable insights needed to protect your buildings against the threat of an active shooter.
To prepare for an active shooter scenario, your drill must be as realistic as possible.
Coordinated with police and local law enforcement, active shooter training should mimic what will happen in a real-life active shooter situation, with designated actors playing the role of the active shooter at your facilities.
Beware of uncredited and uncertified contractors who offer to perform your active shooter training for you—many times these contractors don’t have the proper experience to fully help you develop your response plan.
Using the “Run, Hide, Right,” method of active shooting response for participants in the scenario, develop a list of standard operating procedures for teachers, business administrators, students and employees involved in the training.
Proactive security solutions—such as A.I. gun detection technology integrated into current security cameras—alert security, school administrator, staff and law enforcement of illegally brandished firearms visible by security cameras before shots are fired. This proactive solution saves valuable time and gives first responders the situational awareness needed to thwart threats and contain active shooter situations.
What’s more, make sure you take time to review and revise your Emergency Action Plan after the active shooter drill takes place. If you don’t have an emergency action plan in place already, learn about creating one.
Active Shooter Training Support from ZeroEyes
ZeroEyes was founded by former Navy SEALs on a mission to end mass shootings in America. We support our customers by attending and participating in live active shooter training with our customers and law enforcement onsite at their facilities.
Working hand in hand with our customers and local law enforcement is key to ensuring a positive and productive active shooter training session for everyone involved. We help our customers run the training drills both with and without assistance from ZeroEyes’ A.I. gun detection technology to show just how effective it is at helping to reduce response time for law enforcement and first responders.
During these training sessions, our military-trained veterans also offer tips and insights to school security and local law enforcement to better respond to active shooter threats.
In fact, at a recent Active Shooter Training event at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, officer response times were reduced by nearly 66% by adding ZeroEyes to the Active Shooter Training response plan.
ZeroEyes installs on your security camera system and will immediately send warnings to your on-site security, key staff members, and first responders as soon as a gun is detected, even if your own security personnel step away from the camera feed.
“Our local law enforcement officers run training drills each year to coordinate and practice a response to an armed individual on campus. When we combine their skill sets with ZeroEyes technology, we gain a clear advantage over anyone who would attempt harm.
When we conducted an active shooter drill in 2019, it took law enforcement three minutes to reach the active shooter without ZeroEyes, and only 30 seconds with ZeroEyes.”