Preparing for an active shooter situation at your agency

Annual National
Preparedness Month observances urge us to review our family and workplace
safety plans, but more often than not, people instead think of planning for
natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and tornadoes. This
year, the
Child Support Report offers practical advice to help
government offices prepare for issues surrounding workplace violence.
According to the Department of Homeland Security Active
Shooter Pocket Card: “An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing
or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, typically
through the use of firearms.” As a manager, your first step should be to draft
an Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan or, if your office already has one, to
review it and see if everything is still relevant.
Sypolt, the Chief of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, says managers should keep these tips in mind as they
develop a plan:
Watch: Ensure your employees know what to look for. They need
to be aware of someone doing a suspicious or dangerous activity, such as
putting down a backpack and walking away. If someone who was recently in your
office for a difficult child support case made extreme or threatening remarks toward
one of the employees or towards the office in general, that could be a danger
Plan: An Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan includes
instructions employees can follow in an active shooter event. Think:
· If possible, RUN to safety. Employees must know their best escape routes from their
location and the predetermined central meeting place that is a safe distance
from the building.
· If escape is not an option, HIDE, and
remember that part of hiding is remaining silent and still. Employees should
lock their office doors and turn off the lights if possible. Immediately put
all cell phones and pagers on silent—NOT VIBRATE. Don’t type, don’t make phone
calls, and especially don’t peek out the door.
· If discovered while hiding, defend yourself and FIGHT for your life. Employees can try to incapacitate the shooter by
throwing items at the shooter, such as wastebaskets, staplers, or other small
but hard objects.
· Lastly, act decisively regardless of whether you
decide to run or hide. Don’t get caught in between. If the choice is to hide,
stay hidden until you get an official announcement.
Call: Dial 9-11 only when you can make the call safely.
Employees hiding should remain in hiding until a pre-determined warning code or
official notification is broadcast.
Inform: Employees must keep their eyes open and
observe the situation. When law enforcement officials arrive, they will need to
know where the active shooter is, whether there is more than one suspect, the
type of weapon(s) the shooter has, what the person looks like, and how many
potential victims could still be in danger.

Practice: It
is critical that employees practice office Emergency Action Plans so they can
do what is expected in an emergency.

Reprinted by Elaine Blackman, from the September 2013 HHS Child Support Report article <> by Kim Danek.

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