What You Should Cover in Workplace Active Shooter Training

Workplace violence has become more frequent in the past decade. That is a simple fact. As more and more people have access to deadly weaponry and firearms, it increases the risks for those around them. While we may not think about it for a typical office building, it does still happen there.

Recently, though, it seems that large super stores have been the main target for violent shooters with a bone to pick with their coworkers and customers alike. For instance, there was recently a tragic incident at a Wal-Mart superstore. You can read about it on this page if you are not already familiar with it.

What this shows us is that anyone can be vulnerable. That is why I place such high importance on hosting training sessions for things such as active shooter situations. Even a little bit of preparation might be able to save a person’s life. There is a lot at stake.

Choosing a Strategy

If you did not already know, experts suggest that you select one of three different strategies for handling an emergency situation such as violence in your workplace. The one that you select should be based on the circumstances of the incident rather than you pre-determining in advance. A lot can change at the toss of a hat when dealing with moments like this.


Starting off with one of the more instinctual suggestions, you can utilize the “hide” strategy. Sometimes this is referred to as the “shelter in place” method. As the name suggests, it is when you find a place to keep yourself safe and undetected from any intruders or other threats. Just bear in mind that this is not exactly full proof. There are some things that you can do to increase your chances of staying safe, though.

Making yourself harder to find is not all that difficult. You should always stay out of the view of the shooter. In addition to that, your spot should not restrict your movement or make you completely trapped. Consider barricading the door with furniture if it will not make too much noise, and definitely keep it locked if that is an option.


The next action plan that you may put into place in the event of an active shooter in the workplace is to run, also called the “evacuate” stratagem. Knowing all the exits in the building, particularly the emergency ones, is critical to this technique. It may not be a bad idea to go through a map of them during the training session itself, just so that you ensure all your employees are aware of their options.

Precautions to take here mostly involve not being too loud or attracting the attention of the attacker. If your only option would be to smash open a window or something akin to that, you may be better off trying to hide instead. You see, making obvious noises like glass shattering could simply draw the attacker towards your location, and it can be difficult to outrun someone with a firearm.


Before I get too far into this section, I want to make an important disclaimer: in my opinion, this option should always be left as a last resort. You have a high chance of getting injured if you attempt to fight against a person wielding a weapon while you do not have one. With that being said, sometimes there are situations in which it is an appropriate response.

In these situations, some steps that you could take to defend yourself are yelling, throwing objects at the attacker (such as heavy books or a stapler), or acting aggressive towards them to try to scare them off. However, there is no telling how a violent perpetrator will react. For that reason, this should definitely not be your first inclination.

Is This Worth the Time?

As employers, I think that we need to ask ourselves this question a lot. What is worth sinking our time and effort into? As you can see from resources like this one, https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/active_shooter_booklet.pdf, this is a training session that you will definitely be glad that you hosted. What is nice is that you do not even need to create the curriculum yourself if you do not want to – you can hire an outside organization to handle that for you.

Either way, it is critical that we help to keep our employees safe by preparing them for any sort of incident that could come their way. While we will all hope that this disturbing trend of violence will start to dissipate, thus far it does not show any sign of stopping. Therefore, we need to be ready for anything.

Create a safety plan, make note of emergency exits, and remember that while panic is natural, it will not be overly helpful.

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Posted - 01/17/2023