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Preparing for an active shooter in your shop

If the unthinkable happens, it is best to have training and a plan of action in place
Friday, July 7, 2017 - 07:00
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The news peppers us with more stories every day of businesses and lives destroyed by active shooters, whether they be disgruntled employees, angered spouses or someone off the street.

You can’t predict when and where this may happen, but you can prepare your business.

The ALICE Training Institute offers a way for shop owners to train themselves and their employees on how to respond, react, and most importantly, stay alive in these scenarios.

Developed in the aftermath of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colo., in 1999, ALICE training has proven effective in helping keep people alive, says Joseph Hendry, a trainer at the Institute. Lt. Hendry is a 27-year veteran of the Kent State University Police Department and was named an expert consultant to the Ohio Department of Homeland Security for civilian response to active shooter incidents.

ALICE — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — is a flexible acronym, Hendry says. The steps do not need to go in order, but you respond using the skills based on the scenario.

Hendry breaks down the steps:

ALERT: “We teach people what the alerts are that they should be looking for: what they see, hear. If there is an announcement, picking up on sounds, and the things happening around them,” he says. This helps people to decide how to react to the scenario.

LOCKDOWN: “Lockdown is part of it — where you lock the doors and turn off the lights — but not the traditional response. We teach barricading, how to prepare a room, or set it up during an event, but that is all a secondary response,” he says.

INFORM: “During an incident we want to keep people aware of what is going on. If police are clearing the building, if you should stay where you are, or it could be updates on where the gunman is so you can make decisions on how to react,” Hendry says.

COUNTER: “It is not fighting the gunman. Counter is a last resort in direct contact. Movement, noise and distraction are things that all human beings can do. We have used scientific methods on the human response to stimulus and how the brain reacts,” he says. It is difficult for a person to focus on a specific task in the midst of many distractions. “For a shooter, this task is shooting. If you have many people moving and throwing things, it makes it difficult for a person to focus on what they are doing. There is an order to action: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. If a shooter is constantly observing and orienting, they are not pulling the trigger, which increases survival.”

EVACUATION: “Evacuation is the primary response, to get everyone out of and away from the facility. That is the goal. We recommend that people not stay at the scene with a gunman.”

Get training at your shop
The ALICE Institute conducts training all over the world. It starts with e-learning, which provides a baseline for the ALICE method. Trainers can also come to a facility for a 4-8 hour course, which includes a review of the e-learning principles and then running live scenarios to reinforce the training learned.

There is also a separate facility assessment process. The ALICE Institute has an online tool shop owners can use to provide information about their building that can help trainers to develop plans of action during a potential incident, Hendry said.

Active shooter response training does fall under OSHA as a general duties clause, Hendry said. “It used to be considered low probability, high impact, but the probability is going up. Not having a plan puts you under more liability. Plus, it is just good business.”

Shop owners and technicians can go through state courses to carry a weapon, but it is not one The ALICE Institute recommends as a response to an active shooter in the workplace.

“Having to shoot in an active shooter event is a skillset that perishes. This is true even for police officers, who are actively trained, but may not be using the skill regularly,” Hendry says. “Then you talk about having to shoot in an environment where you have employees, people and a lot of distractions. People may think their skillset is better than it actually is. This type of shooting requires extensive ongoing training.”

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