There's an Active Shooter in Your Office - Now What?

Responses to active shooter scenarios unfolding on live TV are varied- everything from “that will never happen to me” to imminent fear and fixation on something similar happening in one’s own workplace. One positive trend coming out of the recent rash of active shooter events has been that business leaders and owners are prioritizing pro-active training within their organizations like never before. Employers often have a wide range of questions on the options and details of such trainings since an active shooter response training is usually something new for their organizations. In today’s blog, Director of Operations for Krav Maga Maryland, Jeff Mount, takes us behind the scenes of the active shooter response training program and what employers can expect to see happen.

What’s a typical training actually like? Is each one customized or do you have specific format you use each time? Full day? What do you do?

It really depends upon the company. Generally we do some preventative, informational discussion and classroom presentations, mixed with walk-throughs and physical training should the worst occur. But since every company is unique, with its own set of needs, concerns, team of employees, and physical location, we seek to customize as much as possible so that our participants can truly own the content that is making them safer.

What typically motivates an employer to contact you?

Sometimes it’s a news headline. Sometimes the employees request the training. Sometimes a few team members have attended a similar training and recognize what a great, positive effect similar training would have on their work environment. Every once in awhile they have a more acute situation where someone connected with the company has made a threat, and it really brings home the reality of the danger.

How many employees are involved? Does it make a difference in how you train?

Since potential threats are unpredictable, our training also needs to be scaled to whatever size organization. We have trained several hundred people at once, and we have also trained fewer than a dozen. Obviously the energy is different when you have a large number of people taking positive, decisive, life-saving action! But the principles are the same no matter how many people are attending. We keep our student to instructor ratio right around 1 to 18.

Can employers have you come to their offices? KMM location? Either?

We prefer to hold the trainings on-site, since it brings home the usefulness of the actions when the training occurs at the same place that the potential danger might occur. Sometimes though employees prefer to get out of their normal environment and come to us. We encourage employers to poll their staff and find out what they think would be most effective and enjoyable.

What kind of reaction do you get from attendees after you’ve completed the training?

The most common reaction is one of great surprise at how simple the principles are. As with anything that creates anxiety, there are huge questions in the mind of the individual about what they’re really capable of. Could I really escape? Am I able to see the warning signs? Would I be able to step up and save my own life with physical action? When people realize that the hurdles are primarily emotional, but that the solutions are really accessible for all types of people, there’s usually a flood of relief, confidence, and empowerment.

What’s the most rewarding aspect for you when it comes to leading these trainings?

So often, at the beginning of a training, I see certain people’s body language – it’s closed, because they’re apprehensive. They have a lot of fear surrounding the idea of an office attack. It’s something people deflect with humor, denial, distraction, or obsessive dwelling. Then when we get people up and moving, show them some simple ways to implement steps, and they start really believing that they can make a difference in their own office setting, relief is just the beginning. Joy, excitement, fun, and confidence kind of just overflow out of their conversations afterwards. It’s like the fear was never there just an hour or two ago. It really is transformative.

Rachel Parker