Violence by mentally unstable individuals, although infrequent, can have catastrophic consequences for a business or workplace.  As such, every organization should have emergency response plans for outlier events of violence. Disturbed former employees, members of the public, or even terrorist groups can target company buildings and campuses. When such events are carried out by perpetrators moving and shooting their way through a facility, they are known as “active shooter” events.

But can an organization or individual plan for the unthinkable? This security advisory lays out some simple steps towards better organizational and individual response plans for unforeseen violence. Indeed, an active shooter response plan should be part of a larger and more comprehensive emergency response plan. Furthermore, it is critical that such emergency plans have the backing and buy-in of the organization as a whole.

Organizational Planning: Steps Towards a Plan

A desire to create a security response plan is the first organizational step. Management must recognize that what may seem like a tranquil environment today can become a violent struggle in the blink of an eye.  From incidents at the Navy Yard in Washington DC, to terrorism in Kenya, to college campus events, it is quite clear how quickly things can become ugly.

Secondly, a comprehensive organizational plan should focus not only on aspects such as employee background checks but also on rudimentary security measures such as perimeter defenses and video monitoring. Additionally, access controls can prove vital to deterring, detecting, and neutralizing possible aggressors. For example, if gun violence is a potential threat, detectors can be installed and search protocols can be implemented. Furthermore, organizations should seek to incorporate evacuation and lockdown procedures into their emergency plans in the event of an active shooter scenario.

Third, a plan should focus on all aspects of a threat. Disgruntled employees may not resort to just to violence. For example some may engage in cyber attacks, IT sabotage, or other sorts of “non violent,” yet destructive, efforts. A comprehensive emergency plan should begin with an organizational recognition of the unthinkable and then proceed to a comprehensive response plan, covering each reasonable threat scenario.

Bringing in recognized security professionals can provide that outside perspective and expertise to turn the desired organizational intent into a comprehensive emergency response plan.

An Individual Plan: Be Prepared

What if your organization does not have a plan? Below is a simple individual active shooter checklist that can be adapted to almost any environment.

Step 1: Run

Step 2: Hide

Step 3: Take Action

Step 1 (Run) means that an individual’s first priority is to evacuate the area quickly and safely. If this is impossible, then it is best to move to Step 2 (Hide), finding a closet, stall, backroom, or other area of concealment. It is important to note that any concealed place that can be locked from the inside offers an extra layer of protection.  However, if this too proves impossible then the individual has no other choice but to proceed to Step 3 (Take Action). As a last resort, an individual should attempt to utilize whatever means to subdue the shooter.

While comprehensive emergency plans are preferable, in the absence of organizational guidance, an individual emergency response plan can prove vital in an active shooter scenario. Luckily, this is relatively easy as individuals can mentally run through this simple 3-step checklist in almost any environment.

About the IMG Group

The IMG Group is a leading international travel security firm. Corporate or business organizations concerned about their need for detailed and robust emergency response planning can reach out to the IMG Group for assistance. The company’s expert security consultants provide services such as executive, employee, VIP, and expatriate travel security, risk and threat assessments, workplace violence prevention, crisis management planning, and more.


Tel.    (877) 887-9914 or (352) 460-4731