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Active Shooter Training: How Situational Awareness Saves Lives

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

It’s a reality that’s both sad and true: gun violence isn’t going away. This is especially true in 2022, with mental health emergencies taking place at higher rate than ever before. Whether it’s a school, church, office environment or elsewhere, it’s critical that people are vigilant and have a well-practiced plan in place for an active shooter situation. While these are difficult conversations to have, and scenarios we hope will never occur, we have to be prepared for the worst. The lives of you, and the people that count on you, depend on it.

A strong training program designed by law enforcement officials will teach employees how to respond quickly and decisively in the unfortunate event of an active shooter. It will also stress the importance of situational awareness, the foundation of most survival skills. Today’s blog will address three ways to increase your situational awareness and, in turn, your preparedness for active shooter situations.

1. Know your physical environment inside and out.

Now is the time to review your workplace’s floor plan, hardware, and communications systems. This advance knowledge will help you determine whether you are better off locking down where you are, moving to a safer area in the building, or fleeing the building entirely. Always be aware of the two nearest exits in any given space, as well as non-traditional options for escape. A locked classroom or office provides far better cover and concealment than a large space. Proper door hardware, that can be locked from the inside, is essential. The ability to quickly alert and effectively communicate information to others in and around the building is essential, so have a plan in place to discreetly send text messages or emails. These are just a handful of the many items that should be on your checklist when evaluating your physical space.

2. Dismiss the denial.

It’s natural to experience feelings of shock and disbelief when confronted with the threat of an armed intruder. Still, the faster you can process, accept, and respond to the situation, the better your odds are at surviving it. Some survivors of these incidents have reported hearing gunfire but brushed off the loud, popping noises because gunfire wasn’t something that they perceived as a possibility in their environment. This mentality can lead to being killed or wounded. Train your staff to overcome denial and recognize and respond to the sound of gunfire. Many people don’t realize that the type of gun, and whether the weapon is being fired indoors or outdoors, can drastically change what gunshots sound like. Distance and directionality are also important factors.

3. Practice, practice, practice.

While active shooter drills in schools and campuses have become relatively commonplace, the same cannot be said for corporate environments, hospitals, and churches. Good planning for such incidents involves conducting mock active shooter incidents. This process will help staff familiarize themselves with their three main options when met with an active shooter (Run, Hide, Fight) and how to help minimize loss of life. We recommend drills that simulate a real-life scenario with an actor playing the role of a shooter to offer realistic tactical training.

Situational awareness is not intuitive – it must be learned, developed, and practiced. Trust the experts at D5 Consulting Group to protect you and your people.

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