Another mass shooting in the United States has shocked the world. Once again, there is the standard discussion in social and political circles about what can be done to prevent active shooter events from happening.
Australia is extremely fortunate that active shooter events are incredibly rare and often, less fatal. Nevertheless, good planning and implementation of preventive security plans can provide an extra layer of safety in worst-case scenarios.
We have previously touched on the implementation of appropriate security measures during an active shooter event. It noted the importance of clearing, controlling and evacuating crowds and scanning public buildings for devices. Further, we have also discussed the challenges of carrying out lock downs in public buildings. As well as key issues involved the confusion of communication and the lack of appropriate training.
The creation of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a common process that many security agencies implement into their policies. These plans set out guidelines on how to react to an emergency; providing practical steps to stay safe and also note down who and what needs to be communicated during the event.
Drafting an active shooter EAP is immensely useful for all organisations. A procedure describing how to effectively lock down and engage (or not engage) with an active shooter, and a list of who to call in those situations would have been tremendously valuable in light of Australia’s last active shooter event during the Lindt Siege.
When drafting an active shooter EAP it is important to consider these four key issues:
- Step-by-step processes – these would include:
- How to properly implement a building lock down
- Methods to stay protected (eg. lock the doors and find cover)
- Following police instructions upon their arrival
- Proper communications – an active shooter event is always confusing and highly stressful – it is important to seek help and communicate news by including:
- A communications tree with all the ‘need to know’ personnel and their contact details
- Procedures on how to report an active shooter to the police
- Predetermine consequences – there is always the aftermath to deal with. It is important to know how to address and debrief on the following issues:
- Knowing what to communicate to the media
- Providing clear communications and after-care to staff/individuals affected by the event
- Cooperating with authorities during investigations
- Ensuring a quick business continuity
- Training – security officials and even business staff/employees will also need to undergo training that includes:
- Emergency drills similar to fire drills
- Seminars facilitated by building facilities staff or HR
Drafting an EAP for your organisation does not have to be overly complicated. There are many existing guides and manuals available on the Homeland Security website that can be used as a guide to inform the drafting of your own EAPs. These can be drafted with the assistance of a company’s HR department to ensure that they are also accessible to employees if necessary. A more detailed manual is also available on the Australian Government’s National Security website.
An active shooter event is highly unlikely in Australia, but it doesn’t mean that we should not prepare for such an emergency. Applying a conscientious approach to these security issues ensures the public that they are being kept safe at all times.
For assistance in preparing for these types of event do not hesitate to contact Agilient.
The Agilient Team