How To Establish An Emergency Action Plan For Your Workplace - In a Heartbeat

How To Establish An Emergency Action Plan For Your Workplace

It is uncomfortable to imagine that an active or mass shooting emergency could occur in your workplace, church, school, community, or organization, but we all must reckon with and confront that possibility. Hoping that we will “figure it out” at the moment is a natural but dangerous perspective to take on emergencies. The good news is that you can prepare for it! Creating an Emergency Action Plan with a clear safety network is one of the quickest ways to ensure your organization is prepared in the case of a crisis.

Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Action Plan

Being prepared goes a long way. It not only helps you effectively respond to emergencies, but it can also set up a framework for your recovery and adjustment after an emergency like a mass shooting. An effective plan may also lessen the likelihood of an emergency or violence occurring in the first place. Advanced planning protects people not only physically but mentally as well. Here are some of the many reasons why emergency action plans and safety networks are vital:

Reduces Fear and Strengthens Confidence

People fear what they do not know. While we often see the aftermath of shooting incidents covered in mainstream media, the reality of how these events unfold is only understood by those who were present. Therefore, for those who have not experienced an active violence emergency, such as a mass shooting, people may build scenarios in their heads based on assumptions rather than reality.

An emergency plan, along with professionally delivered safety training like SAVE, familiarizes people with these emergencies, educating them on the warning signs, providing them with advice for escaping safely, and helping them keep the situation as under control as possible until law enforcement arrives. These skills, as well as first aid and CPR training, help remove uncertainty and give people confidence that they could remain safe in active shootings or violent emergencies.

Therefore, putting an emergency action plan into place should help break these scenarios into manageable parts with clear advice for each section. Knowing that each member of your organization is prepared builds trust and confidence that together you can prevent or survive an active violence emergency.

Reduces the Likelihood and the Impact of an Emergency

An essential part of an emergency action plan is recognizing and naming potential threats ahead of time. Active shooting incidents are sometimes entirely random, but it is possible to notice warning signs from certain events or behaviors. Lives can be saved if you notice the potential threat of a shooting incident, or notice early that one has already begun.

For example, suppose you are a service worker with frustrated customers. In that case, there are ways to tell if the person is armed, has the capacity to harm, and whether or not you need to de-escalate the situation and bring people to safety. Recognizing an angry customer’s risky behavior can help lessen the impact of a potentially violent situation. Having an emergency action plan in place allows you to act quickly and effectively.

Alternatively, the perpetrator could be someone within your organization and warning signs might include behavioral changes, substance abuse, inconsistent attendance, or severe mood swings. Having an emergency action plan, that lists out these potential risks, allows employees to be vigilant to these changes and intervene to prevent an escalation of the situation.

Helps in Faster Recovery

A good emergency action plan considers not only the events that lead to the active violence incident and what happens during the incident but also what you can do afterward. Preparation covers how you will communicate with your employees, their families, the media, law enforcement, and the government. Check out our blog on creating a crisis communication plan for more insight on this. It also helps you prepare for how to deal with a traumatic event, like a mass shooting, from a mental health point of view, and how to get your organization back on track.


How to Create an Effective Emergency Action Plan

Emergency action plans include everything from general signs of danger to specific types of door barricades and everything in between. Given the level of detail needed for an effective plan, you should have written forms of these plans, not just verbal ones. Here are some of the things to consider when creating your safety plan:

Analyze Your Unique Situation

Examine what potential threats your business, organization, school, place of worship, or community faces. Are you in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, armed residents, or substance users? Or are you in a fairly safe location? What possible tensions could arise from the nature of your business? What are the age demographics of your organization? These are all important factors in coming up with an emergency plan and safety network.

Really Know your Way Around

What are the exit routes in case of an emergency? What items are available to help you barricade yourselves from the perpetrator? What can be used as weapons? Based on your location, how long would law enforcement take to arrive in the case of an emergency? Who in your organization can give first aid, CPR, or other medical care in case someone gets hurt, panics, or is shot? Giving clear assignments for different aspects of your plan can reduce panic in the case of a real emergency. A predetermined emergency team or safety network can help you move effectively in case of an active shooting event.

Keep the Plan Updated

Things are bound to change as your company grows, shrinks or relocates, and so should your emergency action plan. Updating your emergency action plan and safety team should be a top priority as circumstances change over time.


Supplement with Professional Training

In A Heartbeat’s “Surviving Active Violence Emergencies” classes are specifically designed safety trainings to kickstart your group’s preparation for a potential crisis. We offer unique programs specific to your organization that will help lay the foundations for your specific emergency action plan.

We’ve answered why your organization needs an emergency action plan. The next important question to think about is when. There is no better time than now. Contact us at to request a SAVE class.

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