MOVING TOWARD SAFETY
Dr. Ross L. Riggs
The bell in the elementary school hall way begins to clang. Students prepare to file out, in a quiet and orderly fashion. In its earliest days, my school’s fire alarm was a large metal bell attached to the wall with a mechanical hammer that would strike the flying saucer shaped bell repeatedly.
At the fire alarm, we would put away books and our pencils, get in line at the front of the classroom and in an orderly fashion we would walk out of the school to a pre-arranged place where the teachers would take a roll-call.
On other days, an announcement would come over the public address system in the school and the principal would announce a CIVIL DEFENSE DRILL. At about that same time, the wail of a high pitched siren would be heard coming from downtown. It was like the siren that summoned the volunteer firefighters to a call; but, this one did not cycle high to low pitches. It went to a single high pitch and stayed there. We would again, put away our books and pencils, though I’m not sure in a real emergency, any of us would have cared about our Eberhard Fabers! Then, again, in a quiet and orderly way, we would get down on the floor and crawl under our desk to await either the dropping of a nuclear bomb on us or the announcement by the principal that we could resume our seats.
Then there were the tornado drills. Again, an announcement followed by the same siren we would hear if the U.S.S. R. was bombing us, and, again, putting away our pencils and books, we walked in an orderly fashion to the hallway where we sat on the floor along the lockers, brought our knees up and then put our head to our knees and our hands over our head to await the arrival of Dorothy and her little dog too!
It all seems ludicrous in today’s world, doesn’t it? Someday, someone may look back on how we failed to protect ourselves from a real threat, the probability of a gunman seeking to kill as many in our school, our church or our workplace or coffee shop as possible. We might as well put up our pencils and books, walk in an orderly fashion and wait to be gunned down. Perhaps that is a bit hyperbolic; but, not much in most places.
One of the key things we have learned in active shooter situations is to keep moving! Run, do not walk, past GO, don’t worry about your $200 or your Eberhard Fabers. Just run. It is hard enough for a skilled shooter not under stress to hit a moving target. A non-skilled shooter hyped up on whatever it is that one might get hyped up on to do such a thing probably couldn’t hit a moving target without a huge amount of shear luck.
There is another aspect of moving though which is integral to developing as safe a work environment as possible for you and your co-workers or co-worshippers. The active shooter incident just a few days before this article was written, occurred in a synagogue in Pittsburgh raises some questions which authorities will try to answer in the days ahead. For example, how did a person carrying a M-16 rifle and three handguns get past the front foyer of a synagogue? This is my primary question at this point. When it comes to moving, though, it is a common instinct to freeze in the face of fear. If we can overcome the fright-freeze response and move, our survival rate will climb exponentially.
What about moving your place of work, worship or relaxation to a place of greater safety? I will never say to a place of safety, because there is no such place this side of heaven. However, we can have places of greater safety; greater because people care about each other, people stay aware of their situational surroundings and people come to the aid of persons in trouble. In today’s world there are many risks we encounter from the minute we choose to get out of bed. For this brief article I will mention just one and only in a short expose. Let’s review the term, active shooter.
Active shooter, a term used to define the perpetrator of a type of mass murder marked by rapidity, scale, randomness and often suicide. Some shooters, familiar with any school’s fire escape plan, could easily set up drill because, for most, it hasn’t changed since I was the one standing on the playground waiting to be counted. Pre-arranged meeting places, orderly movement, and lack of flexibility all play into the hands of the shooter. Schools and other officials have been working with police to try to determine a better recourse. Various options from fortifying a room in the school or office and have everyone try to get to the secure area and lock themselves in to wait for authorities to end the siege was one of the first responses developed for active shooters.
The rapidity of the event played against this option. Newer options and concepts like Run, Hide, Fight are becoming standard for many places of business and light industry. How to best handle large groups of children is another matter. Understanding the best ways to work with large groups gathered for worship is another challenge for security personnel, leadership and staff members. In this article you will be introduced to the concept developed by Security Consulting Investigations, LLC (SCI) to bring the discussion more to the front end of the event than the response end.
Preparing for an assault and finding ways to discourage a perpetrator from attempting to use your house of worship, corporate office building or any facility that has a public entrance may be one of the best options any work place has to help keep its employees moving toward safety. The same is true for non-public workplaces or private work areas where disaffected employees may seek to exact vengeance against others. SCI has created the C.A.R.E. Program which will fit any group in any work environment. Understanding how the acronym can work for you, in your house of worship or place of business will also help you decide where to turn next, before yours is the next place on the evening news, God forbid.
CRISIS ASSESSMENT RISK EVALUATION – C.A.R.E.
SCI has developed a strategy and a template for the implementation of an in-depth review of your organization to learn:
• How are you currently prepared or not prepared for a crisis?
• What are the key changes that need to be made to move your organization to a higher level of safety?
• Who are the key people that need to be trained in new procedures, policies and plans to move your group ahead?
• What types of risks are most likely to be faced by your organization?
• Understanding the risks, prioritize the most probable, develop a response(s). (This will include obtaining equipment and perhaps personnel to help mitigate the effects of an event.)
• Train individuals within the organization for their own response needs and their role in case of an emergency.
• Train others in the evaluation process and help create a culture of re-evaluating, updating, and retraining.
This is not an exhaustive list; but, it does provide you with the food for thought you need to begin to move your people, your organization to a place of greater safety.
SCI provides qualified personnel to help you complete your first C.A.R.E. Program and help you to continue the work in the years ahead. Contact SCI at 1-888-719-5636 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.