An active shooter is someone who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill others in an area that is either populated or confined. It could be anywhere – a school campus, a busy shopping center, an office building. Often there is no pattern to the selection of victims. Once there are more than four injured or dead in the situation (excluding the shooter) the active shooter is considered a mass shooter.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict when and where an active shooter might strike, but statistics show that 45 % take place in businesses, another 25% in schools and 10% in government facilities.
According to the Gun Violence Archive in the United States of America, deaths from mass shootings have increased over the past several years – already in 2022 there have been more mass shooting deaths in the USA than there were in all of 2020.
Overall gun deaths have also risen substantially over the past few years. There were around 15,000 gun deaths per year in 2016, 2017 and 2018…that number rose to almost 40,000 in 2019, almost 44,000 in 2020 and more than 45,000 in 2021.
With statistics like these, you can’t afford to be complacent. What would you do if an active shooter was targeting your business? Do you have appropriate measures in place to alert your employees quickly to an active shooter in the workplace so that they have the best chance of survival?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, having preparedness plans in place and carrying out drills are some of the best ways you can help your employees survive an actual active shooter situation.
An active shooter alert system can work alongside any other strategies that you put in place to protect employees, such as the “Run. Hide. Fight” program recommended by the Department of Homeland Security aimed at encouraging people to get themselves out of an area where an active shooter is quickly to a place where they are able to alert law enforcement to the situation.
Different active shooter alert systems have different features, but you should look for a system that lets you send active shooter alert messages:
That is a reliable and stable system available 24/7
Is easy for employees to operate — some systems are complicated and confusing with a poor user interface, which can result in wasted time when it is needed most
Will send messages quickly – messages need to reach people within seconds, not minutes
Is guaranteed to be highly visible – people need to see the alert to be safe!
Can reach employees on computers as well as phones and other mobile devices
Can be used to keep students and faculty alike safe on campus
Has templates that you can customize and use easily
Four steps to be prepared for an active shooter in the workplace situation
Being prepared in the event of an active shooter is key to ensuring that your employees have the best possible chance of making it through the situation unscathed.
1. Determine possible escape routes in advance
Identify if there are ways that your staff can easily get to safety – or if there is somewhere that they can safely shelter in place if an active shooter situation develops. Show images of your evacuation routes in prominent locations throughout your facilities.
2. Create an Emergency Action Plan
Create an Emergency Action Plan that your staff can enact in the event of an active shooter situation. This should set out the relevant procedures your staff should follow if there is an active shooter.
3. Train your employees
Along with the Emergency Action Plan, you should carry out various training exercises so that employees will know how to respond in a real active shooter situation. This should include:
Recognizing what gunshots sound like
How to evacuate or shelter in place.
Acting against the shooter only as a last resort
Contacting emergency services
What to do when law enforcement arrives.
4. Prepare emergency templates in advance
When you have an active shooter situation unfolding, there can be little to no time to prepare emergency notifications from scratch to send to employees. Having pre-prepared templates will let you quickly send information to everyone when you need to.
Send fast active shooter notifications with DeskAlerts
DeskAlerts has designed a solution to help businesses to respond quickly to a crisis such as an active shooter, enabling them to communicate with employees quickly in under a minute so that they can take measures to be safe.
DeskAlerts is an internal communications software solution that works by sending notifications to employees’ desktop screens in a way that can’t be skipped, minimized or ignored. Messages are displayed even if the employees’ computer is locked or on standby or screensaver modes. It is not only an active shooter alert app. It can also be used to alert employees in a variety of other crisis situations.
Generally, messages are sent from an interface that is accessed through a web browser and messages are displayed in the form of pop-up notifications on employee screens. Employees who are on the road or out of the office can still receive messages if they download a Google or Apple app for their smartphones and tablets, and receive the messages in the form of a push notification.
But when a situation develops so quickly that there isn’t time to log in and compose a message to warn people about danger, or if you aren’t at your desk when an emergency unfolds, there is a feature called a “panic button” which can be accessed either as a shortcut on an administrator’s desktop or via an app on a smartphone or tablet.
The panic button message created in advance gives your employees notice that there is a dangerous situation unfolding and they need to act quickly to get to safety. Think of it as being like an active shooter alarm.
An administrator can quickly and easily create a panic button shortcut by composing a customized emergency message template, downloading it to their computer and then using it to send notifications in a split second.
You can communicate with the entire workforce at the touch of a button, reaching as many people as possible inside a minute.
How to use DeskAlerts features in an active shooter situation
DeskAlerts has a range of tools, channels and other features to help you to inform and keep employees safe in an emergency, including an active shooter situation. This includes:
Email – You can use this to let people know about a threat and remind them about different procedures and protocols in an active shooter situation
Pop-up alerts – Instant notifications that pop up on employees’ computer screens in a way guaranteed to get their attention. You can send information about the situation as well as evacuation routes, and what they need to do to stay safe during and after the incident.
Screensavers, wallpapers, lockscreens – Messaging making the most of the features that each computer has to remind employees about protocols and procedures and evacuation routes.
Surveys – quickly find out who is still in danger and who is safe, get useful information about how employees are feeling after the incident so that you can provide the right kind of assistance. Even when there isn’t an active shooter you can test their preparedness for such an event and see if they understand what the protocols are they must follow.
Digital signage – Use any digital screen in your organization as a billboard to let people know of an active threat and remind them of what they must do to be safe.
SMS and mobile push notifications – Instantly let employees know about an active shooter threat by sending alerts straight to their phones.
Different active shooter needs for different industries
Different industries have different structures and different priorities. What one industry needs in terms of a response plan to an active shooter isn’t necessarily going to be the same for other industries.
Common industry needs are:
1. Campuses and schools
Need to have appropriate procedures in place
Need to prepare pre-defined active shooter alert in advance
Must provide education and guidance to students, faculty and other campus users about what they need to do to stay safe in a crisis
Must comply with the Clery Act in the United States to avoid fines.
2. The corporate and manufacturing sector
Need processes in place that will prevent loss of life or injury.
Need business continuity and HR processes in place to deal with anxiety and grief after such an occurrence as well as to mitigate production issues.
3. Hospitals and healthcare organizations
Put systems in place to limit the ability for employees, visitors, patients or strangers to carry weapons in the facility.
How to get an active shooter text alert?
Mass notification systems are used by companies and emergency services to let people know about dangerous situations that could impact them. An active shooter situation is just one of the ways this can be used, and it can include companies sending a text alert via SMS to mobile phones on a contact list that they maintain, alerting them to the situation. Emergency services in many countries use a similar system, but instead of sending to a contact list, they are able to send to all cell phones in the range of specific cell towers.
How to alert everyone in your office to an active shooter?
You can alert everyone in your office to an active shooter situation by using an active shooter alert system. Different alert systems have different features, but in general, they will quickly send messages to your colleagues’ mobile phones, computer screens and other digital screens in the office to provide critical information about the situation as well as instructions about what to do to keep safe. Communications channels used may include SMS messages, mobile app notifications, pop-up alerts on computer screens, screensavers and digital signage.