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                        Workplace / School Violence

                        There is Strength in Numbers. Don’t Forget Your Most Important Assets

                        In any business or educational institution, what is your most important asset? Your employees, students, patients, clients! People! And we protect our most important assets, right? We develop policy designed to keep them safe while they are in our charge; and depending on the potential danger, we practice, conduct classroom training, and drill safety into their minds. From the moment we step foot into kindergarten, and even prior to that, we are taught what to do in the incident of a fire. Training for fire safety continues throughout our lives as a part of every school and business’s overall safety plan. And every business and school, for the most part, has Emergency Preparedness Plans and associated policies. This is great! We need to have policy and procedure for these types of incidents.

                        Here’s where the problems come in:

                        Without the appropriate time committed to training for each and every potential specific threat that may surface within our organization, effectiveness in our plans and policies will lack greatly. We have a responsibility to our schools/companies and our employees/students to do everything possible to train them to stay safe! It’s just impossible to cover every potential threat to a point of proficiency. What we can do, however, is train them in some very basic principles that can provide significant advantage regardless of the potential danger! We can instill a mindset of leadership, a process for making exceptional decisions during sudden and traumatic incidents, an ability to see opportunity, educate them on the process of team forming, empower them to take control of unplanned critical incidents and take control away from adversaries using tactics that only call for violence as an absolute last resort. We can teach them to out-think their adversary! Winning the battle of the mind is what this is all about! When attempting to analyze a competition and determine a potential winner, what are some of the things we consider? What types of things provide advantage to one person/team over another? Size, strength, numbers, weapons, skill, etc. In a one-on-one match-up, skill will almost always determine a victor. However, other things can completely eliminate this advantage of “skill”. Example : A 10 year old black-belt in martial arts will likely not overpower and defeat a grown adult male with absolutely no self defense training. Why? Size and strength will assuredly overpower this skill. Similarly, 5 untrained adult males would likely prevail over the worlds single most experienced and talented street fighter. Now consider placing a high capacity semi-automatic firearm in the hand of a small child, experienced with the weapon, against the top 5 most experienced and talented adult fighters. In this case, the child with the weapon may prevail. If, however, these adult males, even with no fighting experience, have the appropriate skills in making fast and effective decisions, they can prevail over this child, or even an adult, with a firearm. They must, however, be immediately looking for the weakness in their opponent and looking for an opportunity to do something, in order to prevail. But there is strength in “numbers” (students, employees, clients, staff, etc)! Especially if and when the “numbers” are trained!

                        What am I trying to say?

                        In an incident of workplace or school violence (an active shooter incident as an example), whether we have extensive training, or not, numbers is our greatest advantage. Remember, the students/employees will be everywhere! Our adversary cannot account for the whereabouts of anyone other than those within his/her direct line of sight. This means that everyone outside of his/her sight is available to do something. In this type of an incident, we need everyone to be capable of playing a leadership role even if only in a formed small “cell” put together rapidly to “do something” designed to play a role in an overall victory! And “doing something” can be many things including keeping themselves and others safe, evacuating or locking down, assisting in evacuating or locking down, stopping the threat or assisting in stopping the threat!

                        The Bottom Line:

                        Too many businesses and schools stop their critical incident training short of their “numbers”. Employees and students will likely always far outnumber staff and administration. Not training your “numbers” is the equivalent of taking them out of the fight and creating a more dangerous situation for themselves and others. And taking your “numbers” out of the productivity potential of the incident is not only giving away your greatest advantage back to your opponent, its not making use of a tremendous potential resource. Everyone within your charge should be trained to take on a leadership role if they are capable, to do something productive (whether it be protecting themselves or others) during such an incident, or in a last resort situation, stop the threat. This should be a part of your overall safety plan. Remember, in most shooter situations, you will be on your own!

                        Published Oct 28, 2014

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