Recent Shootings Warrant Review of Workplace Violence and Active Shooter Training

Unlike most types of safety training that employees use every day, active shooter directives are the kind that you hope no employee will ever have to use. In the case of the mass shooting at the Walmart in El Paso, active shooter training saved dozens of lives.

A long-term Walmart employee was working the day of the incident in which 22 people lost their lives. After hearing “Code Brown” over the radio, the employee didn’t remember what the code meant. Thinking quickly, the employee remembered the list of codes were on the back of their employee badge. After seeing that “Code Brown” meant there was an active shooter, the brave employee began leading about 100 customers and employees through a fire exit and told them to get inside four shipping containers.

Walmart teaches its employees “ADD: Avoid, Deny, Defend,” when it comes to active shooters. Deny the shooter access, block a door, defend yourself as a last resort. (This is a variation on the Run, Hide, Fight active shooter recommendation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.)

Takeaways from the Incident:

  • In the panic of the moment, employees may not remember parts of their training.
  • Pocket cards, wallet cards, stickers on the back of badges that provide reminders can be effective, as they were in this case.
  • Safety training works.

Run, Hide, Fight

RUN and escape, if possible.

  • Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority.
  • Leave your belongings behind and get away.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Call 911 when you are safe, and describe shooter, location, and weapons.

HIDE, if escape is not possible.

  • Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet.
  • Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights.
  • Don’t hide in groups- spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter.
  • Try to communicate with police silently. Use text message or social media to tag your location or put a sign in a window.
  • Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
  • Your hiding place should be out of the shooter’s view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.

FIGHT as an absolute last resort.

  • Commit to your actions and act as aggressively as possible against the shooter.
  • Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
  • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.
  • Throw items and improvise weapons to distract and disarm the shooter.