For the final installment of the three parts of these blogs on keeping safe in an office setting, today we are going extreme- we’re talking an active shooter scenario. Not snowboarding in the Rockies from a helicopter skid wearing only a bathing suit kind of extreme, but more like Karen from Accounting found out her boyfriend Dan from Legal was cheating on her with Susan from Accounts Receivable, proceeded to lose her [expletive], and decided to take it out on the office.
In my first part of this Hostile Work Environment series, called “Everybody has a Tom”, we looked at pre incident indicators and what to look for to prevent a situation or behavior from becoming hostile. In “Someone go get Stanley!” we talked about what can be done during a termination and how to plan for potential risks.
While the chances of encountering an active shooter in your office space are very slim (we are talking winning the lottery type of chances), these events are up about 750% in our school system alone since 1970. The fight is at all of our doorsteps these days, and it is best to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. So, here’s some basic tactics you can employ to keep yourself safe, should you be holding the winning lottery ticket today.
In the military and law enforcement world, one of the first things taught regarding tactics is COVER vs CONCEALMENT, and how to use both to stay alive in a gunfight. To be sure, this is by no means intended to make you ready to audition for the next John Wick movie, but a basic understanding of the following concepts can go a long way to help. Let’s define both terms, and then get into how to employ them to your advantage.
Cover is anything that you can get behind or place between you and the threat that will STOP a round (bullet) from penetrating it. Examples of this would be a solid brick wall, or the vault door in a bank.
Concealment is anything that will conceal you from the visibility of an attacker. Imagination is the limit to what can be used for concealment, but basic examples would be a thick bush, the walls of an office, cubicles, desk and other office furniture, Ted from Legal that eats all the donuts in the conference room (just kidding Ted), etc. The major difference being the fact that all of these things will not stop a round (bullet) from penetration and you can still get hit.
The use of both of these can be very effective, however I MUST emphasize that no matter what, the following equation must be in the back of your mind:
SAFETY = Time + Distance
You must always be looking for the next place you will be moving to, and so on, and so on, until you can escape (best case) or disrupt, disarm, defend, and defeat your attacker. In other words, MOVE YOUR A**. Movement is life. But you must use your brain and move intelligently. Don’t just go all GUMP and run in a straight line until you hit Mississippi! This is where cover and concealment can come into play.
It’s a pretty safe bet that you won’t find much cover, so it is best to go into this without the assumption that anything you’ll hide behind will stop a round, especially with the type of weapon systems being used by attackers these days. So that leaves concealment. Using a technique called “bounding”, you can use concealment to block the view of an attacker for just long enough to find your next hide. Every office is different, so I won’t go further into it, but your internal dialogue might go something like this:
“Holy [epletive]!!! Karen is shooting people! I have to get away, but I remember that blog written by that ridiculously good looking and intelligent guy from OPS Security Group (so what, it’s my story), and I know I need to be smart here. I’ll duck behind the copier here, and then I’ll run to the end of the hall into the closet, then I’ll hide behind the boss’s ugly ficus tree, then I’ll head down the fire escape.”
The point of all of this is to mentally prepare yourself. I know I injected some humor into this blog, and some might consider that callous or rude. To absorb any of the information I have given, a reader MUST get past the emotional and frightening part of the topic, and begin the thought process of what they will actually do, not just glossing over the topic because they don’t want to think about it. Hopefully if you got a couple of chuckles along the way, it helped to get you to put yourself in that setting and think about how you might actually act. So with that, start looking around the office, think about what you will do if the worst happens, and for the love of God, if you happen to have a Karen in Accounting, don’t go beat her up.
Thanks again for reading.
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