Last month I had the opportunity to attend a day-long active shooter workshop in Rochester, NY conducted by the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection. The focus was awareness of, preparedness for, and response to an active shooter event, with a lean towards a facilities-based audience rather than public safety.
The workshop began with discussions on recognition, then worked through each of the five mission areas (Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery). The primary speaker was excellent, with real-world experience in active shooter situations. While they referred to the offering as a pilot, the workshop has been around for a few years in various versions. Understandably, and unfortunately, it’s difficult for the workshop to keep up with lessons learned from recent events.
As mentioned, the workshop weaves through the five mission areas, rather awkwardly trying to also align with the CPG 101 planning process. I’m not sure that the two really fit well and it was clearly something new to the course, as the primary speaker missed some of the indicators for activities. The workshop agenda also fell short, with the facilitators clearly offering a higher than usual number of breaks and of longer than usual length to maintain the workshop as a full day.
The activities were table-based, and focused on the primary steps as outlined in CPG 101, with the goal of giving some ideas and structure to the creation of an active shooter preparedness plan for a facility. Ideas and discussion generated at our table and others were great, as attendees came from a broad array of facilities, such as schools, night clubs, health care, office buildings, and others. The most disappointing comments were those about roadblocks people faced within their own organizations in planning and other preparedness activities for active shooters. There is clearly a lot of denial about these incidents, which will only serve to endanger people.
With a number of public safety professionals in attendance, there was some great reflection on coordination with public safety in both preparedness and response. One of the gems of the workshop was the number of audio and video clips provided throughout. The segments included media and 911 clips, as well as post incident interviews with victims and responders. The insight offered by these was excellent and they were a great value add.
Three pieces of information resonated above all others in this workshop:
- Run, Hide, Fight (or variants thereof) was stressed as the best model for actions people can take in the event of an active shooter.
- The inclusion of planning for persons with disabilities is extremely important in an active shooter situation. They may have less of an ability to Run, Hide, and/or Fight, and this should be accounted for in preparedness measures.
- Essential courses of action for planning include:
- Shelter in Place
- Emergency Responder Coordination
- Access Control
- Communications Management
- Short Term Recovery
- Long Term Recovery
Since the workshop was in pilot form, there were no participant manuals provided, which a number of people were hopeful to have. They did, however, provide a CD with a plethora of materials, including references, some videos, and planning guides. Many of these I’ve seen and used before, but some were new to me. There was a commitment to send us all an email with a link to a download of the participant manual once it was available. Some of those resources can be found here.
All in all, this was a good workshop. The mix of an audience (numbering over 60, I believe) contributed to great discussion and the primary speaker was great. The presentation materials were solid and provided a lot of context. While I was disappointed in the lack of a participant manual and the inclusion of too many breaks, I certainly understand that this is the pilot of a redeveloped program which they are trying to keep as timely and relevant as possible. While I already knew of many of the concepts and standards, there was some great material and discussion, especially in the context of facilities rather than public safety response. This is a good program which I would recommend to facility owners, managers, and safety/emergency management personnel as well as jurisdiction emergency management and public safety personnel.
© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP
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