Of all the emergencies a school, a campus, or a business could face, armed intruder ones are by far the scariest. Rightfully so, since they are also the deadliest.
An armed intruder emergency is a term that refers to a person actively threatening lives in a highly-populated area. This person can be an active shooter—actively shooting and harming people—or an individual armed with a knife or any other type of weapon.
This type of emergency evolves very fast, so it’s vital that everyone is able to make quick decisions. How can you prevent an armed intruder emergency? And if the unthinkable happens, how can you make sure that everyone is protected?
A vital part of pre-planning includes implementing a panic button app, like Guard911, that gives approved staff the ability to alert 911, other staff members, and law enforcement officers nearby of an emergency.
Armed Intruder Emergencies by the Numbers
Until 2018, active shooter incidents in the US were growing steadily, as shown in an FBI report. The number of incidents in 2019 decreased comparatively, according to the US Department of Homeland Security. But then in 2020, we saw the largest percentage increase in homicides in American history, up nearly 37% in a sample of 57 large and medium-size cities.
However, it’s important to note that, while there is hope that the number of incidents might decrease in the future, the FBI statistics show that the number of casualties per emergency has grown exponentially in recent years.
Whenever we hear about armed intruder incidents, we tend to think about schools and campuses. But the truth is that any workplace can be targeted—including healthcare facilities, an especially relevant target at this time.
While we all hope an armed intruder attack never happens, it’s important to be prepared. Here are actionable steps to take to help prevent armed intruder emergencies and be ready if one does happen.
How to Prevent an Armed Intruder Emergency
“Prevention is not and cannot be a passive process,” warns an FBI report, which also adds that effective prevention entails the commitment of communities and organizations alike.
A holistic approach to prevention is the key to success. Almost all active shooters have experienced a major loss before planning their attack, according to a report by the Department of Education and the Secret Service. Seventy-eight percent of perpetrators had a documented history of suicidal thoughts or even suicide attempts, while 71% felt persecuted or bullied by their peers.
Train your staff members to actively look for these red flags. Engage with employees—and with the student population for schools, colleges, and universities—and encourage them to speak up whenever they need help or feel like a peer might need counseling.
Talk about the possibilities of an emergency, but do so with care. The FBI report cited above also recommends refraining from using terms like “active shooter” or “lone wolf” that might romanticize such situations. Instead, use terms like “offender” or “assailant.”
Have a Plan in Place
Improving security is not only a matter of hiring extra security staff, though that’s a factor, but also of raising awareness and training employees and students regularly.
While OSHA doesn’t have specific guidelines for preparing for an armed intruder incident, they have recognized the importance of having a plan in place and training your employees, faculty, or students regularly.
Pre-planning is essential. Even if your organization has never been through such an incident, it’s important to be prepared and know how to respond. Your plan should include:
- An assessment of the building and its weak and strong points (you can have a police officer help you with this)
- The circumstances under which an evacuation is needed
- The circumstances under which a shelter-in-place approach is preferable
- Clear evacuation routes
- A clear chain of command and a designated person to decide on the course of action
- Specific evacuation responsibilities for staff members and students
- Procedures for special needs persons in the building
- A means of accounting for everyone after the evacuation or after the incident is over
- Regular training of everyone that works or studies in the building
- Panic button mobile app technology like Guard911
The DHS website offers more guidelines for preparing and dealing with an armed intruder emergency.
What Can You Do if the Unthinkable Happens?
When your pre-planning includes implementing a panic button solution like Guard911, you have alert procedures literally at the tips of your fingers. In case of an intruder emergency, an approved staff member can use the Guard911 mobile app to alert 911, inform other staff of an emergency, and notify nearby law enforcement officers on the Hero911 Network.
Train your staff—during regular, periodic training sessions—to alert the authorities and other staff through Guard911. As a smartphone app, Guard911 is a mobile panic button, installed on the device we’re all most familiar with.
Alerting other staff and authorities through the Guard911 panic button, and therefore the Hero911 Network, can reduce response times and de-escalate an emergency as quickly as possible.
Armed Intruder Emergency Mobile App that Saves Lives
Guard911’s family of affordable, effective, easy-to-use active shooter apps save lives. Give everyone in the building peace of mind and the easiest way to contact authorities in case of an active shooter incident. Guard911 offers the only federally approved app of its kind, Hero911, that alerts law enforcement agencies for immediate notification.
Guard911 only works in an emergency if you have it implemented ahead of time. Take the next step in your armed intruder pre-planning by learning about how Guard911 can help your school or workplace.