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What Should Workplace/School Violence Training Be Focused On?Violence is chaos! And every incident of violence is unique. There are professionals out there, thankfully, that gather much needed information about incidents of workplace/school violence in an attempt to “make sense of it” so that the conclusions to their research can be used to potentially make us safer. While this research and the conclusions drawn from it have not yet been successful in finding “the profile of a mass killer”, there are many aspects of it that have played a huge role in developing models and techniques that absolutely contribute to our safety!
The bottom line is, however, is that establishing a Step 1,2,3… type of plan that those involved in an incident of mass violence should adhere to is not feasible to expect. On paper these types of plans may appear to work very well. Even during drills they typically work well; in fact most times they are flawlessly performed! But when the bullets start flying and there is real danger and potential for injury or loss-of-life, plans like this are not going to work for everyone!
Note what I just said:
“they are not going to work for everyone”.
To make it clear, I did not say that they weren’t going to work!
There are some who will follow a predetermined plan and will avert injury or death because they followed such a plan. On the other hand, there may be some who are injured or die because they followed a predetermined plan and were not offered the option to do anything else.
The key to success in an incident of sudden and traumatic violence is the empowerment to make your own decisions and that these decisions be highly effective and made within fractions of a second. In order to do this you must have expertise and an understanding of a few critical things:
This list could go on-and-on.
The one common denominator in each of the above elements, is “Understanding”! And this is what your training should be about. Understanding brings Fast, Effective Decisions! It is said that understanding something is far more beneficial than knowing something. Let me give you an example of this by using training to become a law enforcement officer via the Police Academy (although it really applies to training for any career):
Police Officers go away to the Police Academy and learn how to shoot and handcuff, they learn the law, defensive tactics, etc. And then, upon completion, they are basically told – “now forget about everything you’ve just learned and go out and figure it out on your own”. They are telling the newly trained officers to go out and understand it. And you quickly start to “experience” and “understand” exactly how everything that you learned applies. “Now it all makes sense”! But until you really understand it, the information that you gathered and the techniques that you learned are almost useless.
In the case of workplace/school violence, the most effective way to keep people safe is to raise the level of understanding of as many of the things that contribute to the overall experience of violence and empower them to make their own decisions based on their specific circumstances.
I have long said that organizations that teach only lockdown for Active Shooter may actually be putting those in their charge in more danger. Why? You are training them to react in one specific manner that may, or may not, work under the circumstances. In reality, choice and the ability for your employees/students to decide for themselves what the best plan-of-action should be, and having policy that accounts for as many of the potential decisions that may be made, will ultimately be far more effective in keeping them safe.
You can train for incidents of violence in your workplace in many different ways. If, however, you want to focus on the most effective and practical areas, the things that will be generally effective regardless of the circumstances, then bring training to your organization that focuses on understanding of the overall situation, themselves and their adversaries, that fills each of your peoples “toolboxes” with practical and effective “options”, and that brings understanding to the decision making process and how to make good, fast, effective decisions.
Learning and mastering these very general principles will provide the foundation for safety regardless of who the adversary might be or what their goals may be. In other words, whether it be an incident of active shooter/workplace violence, or an incident where you are victimized individually, understanding and applying these principles will help you make faster and more effective decisions.
Published Nov 12, 2014
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