Business Continuity’s Role in an Active Shooter Incident

Late Sunday evening news broke of an active shooter incident where at least 59 people were killed and 527 were injured in Las Vegas, when a gunman opened fire on a music festival crowd from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

This tragic attack has been noted as the worst shooting in modern U.S. history, yet it is not the only recent attack where the media and entertainment industry struggled to keep fans safe against the unpredictable. The Orlando night club shooting in June of 2016, the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting in January of 2017 and the Manchester area bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in May of 2017 are just a few that caught mainstream media attention.

Not mentioned are the countless other school, workplace and community shootings that caught many by surprise. 

The unfortunate and senseless acts of violence have also caught the attention of business continuity planners. According to the Business Continuity Institutes’ most recent “Horizon Scan Report,” terrorism is businesses’ fourth biggest cause for concern—up from 10th just a year ago. 

These recent scenarios should call business continuity managers to put a plan in place to prevent active shooter or acts of terrorism tragedies. Yet while the goal of business continuity management is to prevent incidents from occurring, sometimes incidents cannot be planned for or prevented and the objective becomes minimizing the impact and causal damage.

 One of the best things business continuity managers can control is ensuring their teams, colleagues and customers are educated and informed on how to react in active shooter incidents. We looked to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for some advice which you can in turn share and train your team, in the event an active shooter incident occurs:

1. Run

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe

2. Hide

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture

 If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door
  • Silence your cell phone and/or pager
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Remain calm and quiet

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:

  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

 3. Fight 

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

Business continuity planning covers the responsibility for ensuring organizations are ready to react and respond quickly. Planning, testing and training is needed to maximize safety and security. The DHS provides more detailed training and educational resources to help your organization begin training and mitigating the damages resulting from the unthinkable.

The Castellan Software Community’s thoughts are with the Las Vegas Community and the friends and families of the Mandalay Bay shooting victims.  

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