Active Shooter - When Lockdown Fails

By Carlton Purvis, Published Nov 26, 2013, 12:00am EST (Info+)

The common response to a shooter at a school or in a workplace is the "lockdown." Staff are instructed by security or exiting procedures to stay in place. The doors are locked and no one is allowed in or out. Sometimes lock down procedures will include obscuring windows and blocking doors with furniture, but what is often missing from lockdown procedures is what people can do to fight back if a lockdown fails. Strategos International trains schools, churches, business offices and healthcare facilities on responding to intruders and active shooters. Company president Vaughn Baker gave some tips at Secured Cities in Baltimore last week on what buildings can do when lock down fails.

When a Lockdown Fails 

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Comments (4)

When seconds count, police are just minutes away

"Code Words" should only be used by security/law enforcement personnel who are used to speaking in code and as such, are required to use some type of "10-code" language. This is mainly to keep communication somewhat private and efficient to those trained in the code. Using this language is important to the safety of the responding officers. However, for those folks who never use the codes as part of their routine, using plain language is always best and recommended.

Why doesn't the use of code work with non-emergency type personnel? In my years of training employees I've learned why some groups are interested while others are not. Here are a few of my thoughts about why code fails:

  • Employees are not that expected to use code daily or routinely,
  • Consistent training relevant to the use of code is not provided
  • The importantance of training relevant to the use of code is not emphasized by managers and therefore, employees see training as not needed or an inconvenience.

Emergency response training (with announced drills) is key to minimizing issues during a critical incident. The more training provided consistently drives the response to be automatic. And that is what the objective should be. As a bonus, these trainings/drills typically highlight issues that may arise allowing the expected response to be fine-tuned.

As usual, great article!

As a side to the 10-code discussion. we're getting compliance manuals and audits from TCLEOSE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education) that are directing us to stop using 10-codes in favor a plain language.

It has been found that, especially in our modern world of encrypted and digitally trunked radio systems, the added "security through [not really] obscuirty" of 10-codes isn't giving any additional benefit. And this is especially true when contrasted with the lack of inter-department understanding of the codes, or the fact that for some folks the meaning of the code just "dissappears" when filled with adrenaline. This is true of all code-word schemes baring extensive and continual drilling under various stress conditions.

For us, we "remind" our officers during the end of watch debriefing about any time we caught them using a 10-code (or any other radio slang/code). They in turn call me out on mine, we all put dollars in the jar. It's slowing down, finally, but it is a very hard bad habit to get rid of.

Another important point re:training is that when this type of incident occurs, just like the Lax incident or the Boston Bombing, it is crucial to have trained personnel who can provide immediate trauma care to the severely wounded. This may require non first responders to get involved to save fellow citizens using makeshift means.

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