Experts Provide Tips on How to Survive a Workplace Shooting

The nation's workplace safety officials, meeting in San Antonio, got some tips on how to deal with the number one workplace safety issue of the 21st Century, the active shooter, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Rule number one, FBI Special Agent Chris Combs told the annual convention of the American Society of Safety Professionals, is that every workplace, no matter how big, how small, or what sort of business they're engaged in, must have a safety plan.  He says nobody is immune from an active shooter.

Deputy San Antonio Police Chief Anthony Trevino told the group that a key to a police response to an active shooter situation is to have a designated point for all employees to gather, so police will know if anybody is still in the building and is still in danger.

"A plan in place for reunification or to validate who is in the building and so on and so forth," he said.  "Those are some additional challenges."

Trevino said all businesses should also reach out to their local police departments now, so police can learn the layout of the business and where the entry points and the potential weak spots are.

"The time to get to know your local police is not during an emergency," he said.

The experts said a plan should include an exit strategy from every part of the business, and guidelines on what can be done to disrupt an active shooter.

Combs said in his experience active shooters have planned and replanned their assault in their heads, so anything that people do to disrupt the shooter is useful.

"Throw a stapler at them, whatever it is, it will probably get them off track and get them to pause, and then you can really go after them and get them down," he said.

Combs said, in his experience, people who barricade doors, fight back, and provide distractions to a shooter are the ones who survive, and people who 'hide under desks and roll up on the floor' will be in the most danger.

He also warned that all companies need to have a back-up plan, with their vital records available off site, because law enforcement will require exclusive use of any scene of an active shooting as an 'active crime scene, for as long as a week.

"There was a real estate company that was working on closings, and they couldn't get back to their building," Combs said.  "And they did not have all of that information saved to a server somewhere else. We almost put them out of business."

The experts said active shooter drills today are much like fire drills were in school.  Hopefully they will never be needed, but if they are needed, they will be invaluable in saving lives.

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