• Chris Dowler, FMP

“Not If, But When…” Active Shooter Myth, and How to Better Prepare your Facility for Real Emergencie

Availability heuristic. A fancy term that describes how the bias of frequent news coverage can skew thinking that an event is inevitable. Currently, active shootings have a prominence in media reporting because of the many great tragedies which are inflicted.

Prominent reporting of active shooter events has emergency managers, risk managers, operating officers, security managers, and facility managers scurrying to create active shooter protocols. Because these protocols are often hastily put together – “cut-and-paste” solutions not specific to their facility or, “check the box” solutions to appease boards or the C-suite – they fail to utilize basic, proven emergency planning techniques to identify true potential hazards.

These managers have succumbed to the “not if, but when…” proposition of an active shooter event. However, the likelihood of a facility experiencing an active shooter event is very, very small – even in schools.

Rather than focusing on that which the media focuses, managers need to perform a realistic threat analysis. Inevitably, what will be revealed is that the most likely events are medical emergencies - heart attacks, anaphylactic shock, choking, diabetes distress, and strokes.

These are commonly occurring events which may afflict staff or visitors. They get no press (on a national scale) and are therefore rarely given thought.

Yet, they occur with much, much greater frequency than an active shooter event.

This week marks National CPR and AED Awareness Week.

It was developed to spotlight how lives can be saved if more people know CPR and how to use an AED. Bystanders reluctance to perform CPR has been eliminated with the new protocol of hands-only CPR. It takes just 90 seconds to learn how to perform hands-only CPR.

Watch this video, courtesy of the American Heart Association, to learn how:

Does your facility have a current, stocked first aid kit? Is its location and use known to staff?

Does your facility have an automated external defibrillator (AED)? If so, is it easily accessible? Do all staff members know how to find one? Is a core group of staff trained on its use? Are staff members trained in CPR?

Do staff members know how to activate the local 9-1-1 service? Do they know what types of questions to expect?

How all of this is implemented covers several topics beyond this blog. The point is to prod managers to think realistically about what the odds say are the most likely events to occur. And then plan.

And then resource the plan.

And then train the plan.

And then re-write the plan with lessons learned and new best practices.

And then resource the plan.

And then train the plan.

And repeat ad infinitum.

For more information on emergency planning and Continuity of Operations Planning (CoOP) contact us at Dowler@DowlerConstruction.com. For more information on hands-only CPR visit the American Heart Association's website at CPR.heart.org.


Chris Dowler, FMP

Founder and Owner

Dowler Construction Services

a strategic facility solutions firm

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