The Problem With ‘Only Active Shooter Training’

Share Your Thoughts: Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Every day we look at the news, there is another story about an act of violence. Understanding those acts from all perspectives – whether you are running a company, a school or in the insurance profession – is imperative.

When you think about active shooter training, preparation and the impacts an active shooter incident may have on your organization must be taken into consideration. Although not every crisis can be prevented, measures can be taken at the corporate, organizational and personal levels before, during and after an event occurs. You have control over certain aspects of every crisis.

Preparedness, however, is a much broader issue than just ‘active shooter training.’

The problem with “Only Active Shooter Training”

Firestorm receives many inquiries from people stating “we just want active shooter training.” This request is only a small fraction of active shooter preparedness.

Are you trying to disarm someone with a gun? Are you trying to figure out how to protect at that moment in time? Wouldn’t you like to know how to avoid that situation? Or wouldn’t you like to know how to care for your people after?

What do you need to know and do: Before? During? After?

What do you need to know? First and foremost, one must understand the culture of an organization and understand and accept that something could happen.

Statistically, the likelihood that any organization will be subjected to an active shooter event is relatively small.

Historically, many organizations have hidden behind this statistic as a reason for not conducting the planning, training and education. Firestorm calls this “disaster denial.” Disaster denial ensues when someone says “it’s not going to happen to me, it’s not going to be that bad and it’s not going to happen here.

Related: Join us on August 3 from 2-4 p.m. ET for a Virtual Exercise – Tragedy Strikes: A Loss of Life Event

Those who exhibit disaster denial do not include active shooter and deadly weapons training in their predictive process. By not including an element in the predictive process, that element does not move into the planning process. When something does happen, those individuals are not prepared to perform.

Although an active shooter event may not transpire, recognition of behaviors of concern may be missed due to a lack of planning and oversight. Identifying and helping the person who was thinking of bringing a gun to the workplace is overlooked. An active shooter prevention program is a plug-in to the overall risk management process.

An organization has to look past the denial of “this will never happen to us,” to the point of “what if it does happen? How can we then restore peace of mind? How can we restore confidence in our employees, students, parents, vendors, customers and others who interact with our brand?”  You then must think about protecting the branding of your organization for the future life of your organization. If an event is mishandled, that ultimately unwinds years and years of hard work of building a business.


From a predictive perspective, sometimes it is easy to omit the likelihood of an armed intruder (bearing a gun, knife or other deadly weapon) because it is so remote. That does not deem the omission as acceptable, especially when working within the education environment and caring for children.

The explanation to a parent, “Mrs. Jones, sorry we do not have an armed intruder strategy, because statistically, it would happen in our school 1 in 20 million,” will not warrant positive feedback. For Mrs. Jones, that explanation will not be acceptable.

From a confidence perspective, having a plan in place provides stakeholders confidence in an organization. Good will is earned by having and implementing a plan.

Statistically, within an 18-month period, organizations that have had a serious episode of violence can expect up to 60 percent turnover of their employees. That turnover is a direct result of confidence. Employees and stakeholders lose confidence in an organization’s ability to provide a safe workplace after a crisis. If you are contemplating the necessity of a plan, think about the cost of hiring and training 60 percent of your workforce.

From the predictive standpoint, hire the right people. Avoiding hiring the wrong employees can be as simple as:

  • Ensuring appropriate HR screening procedures are in place
  • Interviewing employees
  • Background checks
  • Employee verification

Predict is about avoiding the risks from the beginning.


What plans must be implemented to prepare for any crisis?

Emergency response plans need to be executed in case a threat becomes reality. A plan to respond to behaviors of concern – the behaviors that provide opportunities to make a difference in the outcome – is necessary in the planning process.

Has your plan been tested? Join Firestorm on August 3 for a Virtual Exercise. Our panel of experts will guide participants through a series of events that test crisis plans in real time. The no-fee event will be held from 2-4 p.m. ET


The PERFORM stage is the training stage – the training of employees and the testing of plans.

As previously stated, in the active shooter context, people call and say “we want active shooter training.” Great! What are we training to? Training must be geared towards something: a plan, a strategy, a protocol.

PERFORM means taking the plan created for an organization and implementing the plan so it becomes part of the organizational culture.

You are your own first responder during a crisis. Within the PERFORM stage, encourage employees to become their own first responder. Practice a plan so people know what options are available. Can they flee? Can they hide? Can they lock down?

These details can only be understood after a plan has been activated.

PREDICT.PLAN.PERFORM.® methodology personalizes plans to organizations. Personalization becomes very critical. No one wants to pick up the phone and make a call explaining that a loved one is not coming home today. You must identify and act when the warning signs are triggered.

In a perfect world, no organization or school would fall victim to violence; but we know that’s not the case. Firestorm is here to help you plan for disaster before one strikes – whether in the form of our virtual exercises, site assessments or a phone conversation. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance creating, testing or updating your crisis plans.

We look forward to hearing from you and learning more about your Crisis Management needs.  Feel free to call us at (770) 643-1114, or to fill out the contact form.

Join us for next month’s Virtual Exercise event, Tragedy Strikes: A Loss of Life Event, or one of our August webinars, Are You Really Prepared for an Active Shooter?

Related: VIDEO – How to Spot the Warning Signs, Suzy Loughlin, Firestorm Co-Founder

Download the Firestorm Infographic  How to Spot the Warning Signs – Connecting the Dots

Share Your Thoughts: Facebooktwitterlinkedin