Experts Say Three Options:
Run, Hide Or Fight
BY KEN LITTLE
Run, hide or fight.
Those three options are the only choices if a shooter enters a workplace intent on harm.
Two members of the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security outlined the best ways to respond to such a scenario last week during a meeting of the Greene County Safety Exchange held at DTR.
"Sudden Violence -- Surviving an Active Shooter" was the topic presented by state Homeland Security regional advisors Dwayne Collins and Jerry Stout.
Both men have backgrounds in law enforcement and offered some common-sense responses to about 45 members of the Safety Exchange, which is comprised of safety managers and executives from many of Greene County's most prominent industries and businesses.
An individual who enters a workplace with a gun and begins shooting is overwhelmingly likely to be male. Beyond that, "There is no profile," Stout said.
"The point is, it's a very disturbed individual that would do something like that," he said.
Any public place is a potential target, as is evidenced by the variety of places in which gunmen have targeted innocent victims. That includes the workplace, Stout said.
The duration of a shooting episode is typically 12.5 minutes. Police response is typically 18 minutes, Stout said.
The key to survival is what to do until help arrives.
"What you do during that period of time could save your life," Stout said.
He asid the best option is to run.
"Attempt to evacuate if at all possible." Stout said. "If you can run, get away from the situation."
Leave belongings and attempt to help others if possible, but getting to safety should be the foremost priority, he said.
Once safe, call 911.
Stout advised those who flee a shooting scene to keep hands visible when police arrive, and not to attempt to move anyone who is wounded.
For those unable to run from a shooter, hiding is the next best option, Stout said.
"Stay hidden, be quiet. He may just pass you by and keep going," he said. "Be out of the attacker's view and seek protection."
At the same time, Stout said, "Do not trap yourself or restrict options.
"Prevent access by locking doors and blocking with heavy items," he said.
Call 911 when it is safe to do so, but silence all cell phones, Stout said.
"If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen," he said.
Fighting is the "last resort," Stout said.
"We're talking survival here," he said. "You fight to win, and you fight to save your life."
If forced to fight, act "as aggressively as possible," he said.
"Try to incapacitate or disrupt the attacker's actions," Stout said. "Throw items. Improvise a weapon."
In two words, get angry.
"Commit to your actions," he said. "If I've got to fight my way out, there's no fair fight. I'm going to hurt you."
HAVE A PLAN
Collins told the group that companies need an emergency response plan.
The plan can include evacuation routes and taking "physical security measures," Collins said.
"Most industries that I know, if there's a door with a hinge on it, you're in," he said.
Times have changed, Collins said.
"Whoever thought we would see the day that we would have to see our schools as a fortress because of the things that have happened?"
Preparation, prevention and training are all important, Collins said.
It is important for managers to know their employees, he added.
"Be aware of indicators of workplace violence and take remedial actions," he said. "If you've got an employee who you think is a problem person, go on their Facebook account. It's one of the best indicators."
Collins also discussed the "seven signs of a concealed weapon," which include an unnatural gait, inappropriate clothing for the weather, a "jacket sag" and "bulges or outline of a weapon."
"Simply put, you're looking for aberrant behavior that just doesn't fit in," Stout added.
A 'HOT TOPIC'
The program is timely, said Darius Peedin, the director of safety and human resources for C&C Millwright Maintenance Company, who served as host.
"This is a pretty hot topic in today's workplace. It's probably the reason for today's turnout," Peedin said.
Greeneville Fire Chief Mark Foulks is a Safety Exchange member.
"You never want anything like this to happen, but anything businesses can do to prepare for it is that much better," Foulks said. "Our big thing is 'Prevention first.' That's what we want to do."