Active Shooters A Major Workplace Concern, But Businesses Unprepared

Too many organizations still have a long way to go to call themselves prepared to locate and inform affected personnel during an active shooter situation.

Violent acts – such as active shooter situations – taking place at their company or organization are the overwhelming concern of security and emergency management leaders, according to a new survey from Everbridge and Emergency Management and Safety (EMS) Solutions. Despite that worry, a majority of the 888 survey respondents also said that they were not properly prepared for an active shooter situation, highlighting communication to affected employees and individuals as one of the major issues. The report, titled “Active Shooter Preparedness,” reveals organizations’ safety communications plans and their ability to manage a potential active shooter situation.

active shooter
(Source: “Active Shooter Preparedness”)

“The results of this study underscore a very disturbing trend. While an active-shooter scenario is every company’s nightmare, few organizations are prepared to effectively manage the situation,” said Regina Phelps, Founder, EMS Solutions. “Companies need to move beyond fear into action, take clear steps to prevent an attack from happening and also be prepared if it does.”

Key findings of the research include:

  • 69 percent of organizations view an active shooter incident as a potential top threat. Workplace violence also was cited as a top threat by 62 percent.
  • An overwhelming 79 percent replied that their organizations were not fully prepared for an active shooter incident.
  • Communicating with and confirming the safety of those in an impacted building were seen as the biggest challenges during an active shooter situation by 71 percent of organizations. Despite that, 39 percent still said they didn’t have a communications plan in place.
  • 61 percent do not run any active shooter preparedness drills at all.
  • 73 percent said that employees or students are willing to exchange some aspects of privacy for enhanced security.

Violent Acts In The Workplace

Three of the top five threats that companies are preparing for are active shooter situations (69 percent), workplace violence (62 percent), and terrorism (38 percent). In addition, 79 percent of executives and leaders are more concerned about employee or student safety than they were two years ago.

Communication Is A Major Challenge

Communicating to impacted individuals is their biggest challenge during an active shooter situation, reported 71 percent of security leaders. This is followed by the challenge of locating people who may be in an impacted building or facility (55 percent). In order to be properly prepared, companies must have a communications plan in place.

active shooter
(Source: “Active Shooter Preparedness”)

Almost all respondents (94 percent) agreed on the importance of having a method for employees and students to easily report information back to safety officials during an incident.

Companies Are Still Unprepared

While respondents reported that they understood the threat of violent acts – and the need for communication channels to be in place – many remain unprepared.

Of the survey respondents, 39 percent don’t have a communications plan in place for active shooter events – and essentially the same margin (44 percent) don’t have a plan to communicate and escalate alerts to those most likely to be impacted. A majority of respondents (61 percent) do not run any active shooter preparedness drills, further showing how unprepared they are for potential incidents.

Respondents were asked how prepared they felt they were for an active shooter event – and only 21 percent felt that they were ready: 79 percent replied that their organizations were – at best – somewhat prepared for an active shooter incident. Even among those who felt prepared, only 7 percent said they were “very much prepared.”

“Communication plans, education and practice are critical to being prepared for any emergency situation,” added Imad Mouline, CTO of Everbridge. “During an active shooter incident, it is imperative that organizations have a way to quickly and reliably locate individuals in harm’s way and share relevant information, such as instructions to either shelter-in-place or evacuate a particular part of a building. This research shows far too many organizations still have a long way to go to call themselves prepared to locate and inform affected personnel during an active shooter situation.”

Everbridge is a global enterprise software company that provides applications which automate the delivery of critical information to help keep people safe and businesses running. Emergency Management and Safety (EMS) Solutions is a provider of professional consulting services in the area of incident management, business continuity planning, and exercise design.

EMS Solutions and Everbridge conducted the research in July 2016, asking those responsible for the security and emergency preparedness at their organizations about active shooter incident preparedness. The “Active Shooter Preparedness” research report is available for download here.