It’s a sad reality. In the wake of recent mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, mass shootings are on the minds of many. Although such events are relatively rare, they are frightening and command a great deal of media attention, which can distort the actual risk of such an event. Security expert Bruce Schneier talks about the five biggest biases we fall victim to in terms of how we perceive danger. These include the tendency to exaggerate spectacular and rare risks and downplay common risks and to estimate the probability of something by how easy it is to bring examples to mind. One other bias he points to is that we underestimate risks in situations we do control, and overestimate risks in situations we don’t control. See his recent related essay on Overreaction and Overly Specific Reactions to Rare Risks.

Nevertheless, as employers, one key mission is the health and safety of employees. Company officials, risk managers and safety personnel need to plan and make contingencies for crisis-type events. In line with this, EHS Today posts advice on surviving an active shooter in the workplace, including a 6-minute video developed and released by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Authorities say that survival may depend on having a plan, even a simple one – advice that is true in surviving any of a number of unplanned dangerous events such as fires and plane crashes. They suggest that the plan include a few basic components:

  • Run if a safe path is available – don’t hesitate. Urge others to join you, but leave even if others insist on staying. Call 9-1-1 as soon as you escape to safety.
  • If you can’t get out safely, find a place to hide, such as a room with a door that can lock or a closet. Barricade doors and silence your phone.
  • Fight. If escape is impossible, act with aggression, fight back, improvise weapons.

Trigger warning – Because the video is realistic dramatization and portrays a hypothetical situation as it unfolds, it may be upsetting to some..

A Spanish version of the video is also available: Corra. Escondase. Pelee. Sobreviviendo un Tiroteo
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We regularly help employees with counseling to help deal with the after effects of trauma and violence – including domestic violence. In addition, ESI EAP offers a variety of violence prevention resources to managers. We also have trained response teams for on-site trauma intervention. To learn more, give us a call: 800-535-4841.


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