Almost every day I get a note that a hospital or corporate facility is planning to have an Active Shooter Drill. That is always good news because it is a critical part of preparedness that protects not only against an active shooter incident, but also prepares the staff for other emergencies, but it may not be enough.
I’ve found that to be really effective, drills need to be supplemented with short training sessions, and also awareness programs that teach staff to be on their toes, or “situationally aware”. Security awareness training doesn’t have to be a full time job and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
One of the best ways to create an on-going security awareness program is to make a 12-month calendar, with an activity for each month, or better yet, every two weeks. Here’s a list of activities I use:
1. Start with a one page newsletter. You can have the marketing department help, or use WordPress to design your
own newsletter and email it out to all the staff. Whether your staff is 100 people or 6000 people, it’s a great way to promote the security program.
2. Send out very short emails highlighting news items about security incidents at other companies, especially ones in your industry, for example, hospitals. If there’s a terrible incident at another hospital, cut and paste the story and email it to everyone. In fact, if you’re an IAHSS or ASIS member, their publications have great stories about different security situations.
3. Use seasonal reminders. Now that it’s late October and daylight savings time is almost over, send an email reminding staff how to stay alert when they leave the facility after dark and head for their car. How to use the escort service, if that’s available, or how to use your keys as a weapon in a potential incident.
4. Buy posters to put in the cafeteria, or in the elevators that serve as reminders about the concept of staying alert and aware of your surroundings at all time.
I have interviewed more than 8000 staff members in the last 10 years, and they welcome these reminders and feel more secure just because you are keeping awareness up. Remember, it also reminds everyone that there is a Security Department, and that is working every day to keep them safe.
The Department of Homeland Security also provides free brochures and charts you can print out and give to employees, or you can email them for the staff member to print out and put in their purse. There are wallet sized cards, and lots of other great information you can use in your own active shooter awareness program.
Check out the preliminary OIG Report, which was leaked to Time Magazine on their swampland.com site at