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Q&A: Training Protocol

​Steve Albrecht, CPP, is a trainer, writer, and speaker on workplace and school violence prevention. His 17 books include Ticking Bombs and Fear and Violence on the Job.​

Q: What is the best way to ensure that messages about active-shooter plans are received and understood by the entire organization?  

A: Use training sessions, staff meetings, and all-staff emails to discuss the many advantages and some potential difficulties of the Run. Hide. Fight. approach to an armed attacker or an active shooter in the building. The benefits of evacuating from the facility or barricading inside the safest room possible are twofold: both approaches avoid contact with the attacker and keep employees out of the way of responding law enforcement officers. 

Q: Are there any visual aids that security managers should consider including in their training programs? 

A: Use the six-minute “Run. Hide. Fight.” video, cocreated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the City of Houston, Texas, as your training centerpiece. Consider skipping the first 90 seconds of the program, which shows a man with a shotgun blasting people in a company lobby. Some employees may be crime victims and might not want to see that part. The rest of the video is useful, relevant, and instructional. Provide the YouTube link and put it on your company’s Intranet. 

Q: What is the best way to conduct live scenario training with employees?

A: Training is critical, but we don’t need to set the build­ing on fire to run a fire drill. Instead of a full-blown SWAT response simulation with frightened employees, fake blood, and real guns, run a 15-minute drill at least once per year. On a designated date and time, a mass notification or PA system announcement starts the drill and asks all employees to leave the building, quickly and safely, for 15 minutes and then return to work. Or, they can choose to move rapidly to a safe room with as many colleagues as possi­ble, lock and barricade that door, and wait there for 15 minutes before returning to work. Remind them that, in a real event, they may need to provide basic first aid to employees until the situation is controlled. 

Q: What is the best way to debrief employees after the drill is over?

A: A successful drill means that you weren’t able to find any employees in the hallways or open unlocked doors to find them inside. After the drill, get and give feedback from employees as to what worked for them and what improvements could be made. Review how employees could successfully avoid or defeat an attacker by turning off lights, blocking doors with furniture, using defensive weapons inside the room, and staying out of doorways. Determine whether you need to make upgrades to existing door locks or access controls. Be prepared to explain why concealed weapons are not the safest approach and how they complicate the police response.