Key Steps in Active Shooter Preparedness for Businesses
No one is immune to an active shooting. The threat is real, worse still, the incidents of gun violence are on the increase, and the year 2021 is going to break all records for the number of active shootings as well as injuries and fatalities they cause. According to the Gun Violence Archive, this year alone nearly 29,000 people have been killed from gun violence and there have been reported 450 cases of mass shootings so far. In total, the number of mass shootings in the US is 20 percent higher than it was the year before, which in turn surpassed the previous high by 30 percent.
Active shooter incidents are unpredictable and can happen in any place and at any time. In such scenarios, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Yet, organizations and individuals themselves must be ready for gun violence scenarios and take action before law enforcement personnel arrive on the scene. For that reason, active shooter preparedness is of utmost importance and calls for a holistic approach. Apart from effective response plans which each organization must have in place and regular training for an active shooter attack, it’s now paramount to deploy cutting-edge technologies to enhance preparedness as those allow to quickly detect threats, effectively manage the situation during a crisis and automate the response.
An overwhelming number of organizations view an active shooter incident as a potential top threat and are increasingly concerned about dealing with gun violence on their premises. However, a survey revealed that 25% of companies are unprepared for active shooter incidents. Moreover, while 75% of respondents claimed to have emergency response plans ready to protect the workplace against active shooters, they still have issues managing an emergency from the start of the event till it is over. Each second matters. Therefore, it is important to enhance situational awareness during this period to effectively keep track of the premises and prevent employees from unnecessary danger to minimize loss of life.
What should organizations do to safeguard their employees and increase the survival rate in active shooter situations?
Ensure physical security preparedness
In the context of active shooter preparedness, cutting-edge technologies drive a transformational change as they allow to effectively address challenges associated with firearm incidents. These days AI-powered systems are increasingly adopted by organizations, schools and law enforcement agencies in an effort to proactively protect their people from an active shooter.
An active shooter situation usually lasts between 10 to 15 minutes and tends to escalate quickly. Leveraging AI is poised to prevent dangerous active shooter situations and quickly alert those who are in danger before a single shot is even fired. Utilizing an AI-powered gun detection technology will help to identify a threat as soon as possible and have a chance to prevent casualties. When integrated with the existing video surveillance, the system automatically detects weapons and analyses the situation in real-time to identify an active shooting scenario. An alert is then triggered and distributed to the end-user through the web, mobile or integrated VMS channels along with the time, location and screenshot of the detected incident. As a result, security officers get a better understanding of potential danger, can assess the situation and gain control.
Scylla’s Object Tracking solution can further help track movement of the active shooter across all connected cameras even if the weapon has been hidden.
When it comes to detection and notification, automation is critical. Active shooter environments require quick decisions to be made. An individual can stay focused on the screen feed for a limited number of hours without being distracted. Thus, monitoring thousands of cameras, especially in a highly stressful situation, is a heavy burden for operators. That leads to fatigue and reduction in their effectiveness as well as the ability to take immediate actions against a potential threat detected on the screen.
AI-powered technologies allow augmenting security procedures for human operators by rapidly and reliably recognizing firearms and immediately triggering multi-channel alerts and turning on automated pre-defined safety protocols. That reduces the time from first sighting to alerting to a handful of seconds. One constraint for automation is a great number of false alarms that annoy operators and cause noise fatigue and time loss. However, cutting-edge technologies like Scylla False Alarm Filtering effectively help security personnel eliminate the overwhelming number of false positives and significantly facilitate their operations.
Another step to enhance active shooter preparedness is to integrate Access Control System with AI-video analytics which can be used to enable safe and effective emergency evacuation. In the case of active shooter detection, the alert triggers the access control system to initiate visual, audible or mobile alarms and switches the security system from normal operation to lockdown mode. That can trap shooters at their location while providing the security team freedom of movement. At the same time, AI technology can be used to track assailant’s location and manage employees’ movement via a pre-planned evacuation route to a safe area.
Know the risk
As is well known, prevention is better than cure. Thus, all organizations and businesses should take action to mitigate the likelihood of gun violence at their facilities. The fact is that in most cases active shooters were current or former employees who had experienced significant emotional hardship before the attack. The FBI’s analysis identifies the several reasons for the destabilized psychological level of assailants such as loss of significant relationships or a job, changes in financial status or living arrangements, major adverse life situations, and feelings of humiliation or rejection. Thus, implementing employee screening and checks can help to recognize certain indicators of a person’s pent-up emotions caused by heightened levels of fear, anxiety or grief which can lead to potential workplace violence. Recognizing those triggers will increase situational awareness and allow for an appropriate response before workplace violence plays out in reality.
Have an emergency response plan
Under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, an employer is required to protect its employees against “recognized hazards likely to cause serious injuries or death.” As such, an employer should consider developing a workplace violence prevention and response policy. The first line of defense is to build a comprehensive active shooter response plan so that facility management and security officers can coordinate response procedures with law enforcement and employees. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides a set of recommendations for developing and implementing effective emergency action plans aimed to inform employees on how to react when law enforcement arrives and what course of action to take in an active shooter scenario: evacuate, hide out, or incapacitate an active shooter as a last resort.
Offer regular training
It’s essential to provide employees with proper training sessions in order to educate staff on protocols to follow during the incident. In a high-stress situation with all the noise from gunfire, alarms, and people shouting, it’s hard to expect people to keep their composure and not to descend into denial. Regular emergency exercises can teach them to react quicker, reduce the feeling of fear and help them get prepared mentally to overcome obstacles during an active shooter event, which greatly increases the chances of coming out alive. Moreover, training allows to identify weaknesses or roadblocks that need to be addressed to ensure adequate people’s reactions and appropriate work of technologies in a critical moment.
As the number and the scale of active shootings are growing, businesses must do everything in their power to protect their companies and employees. In this respect, they shouldn’t be confined to creating emergency response plans and offering regular training but enhance their active shooter preparedness by utilizing next-gen AI-powered technologies that can significantly strengthen active shooter response and truly save lives.
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