Active Shooters: 6 Mistakes Credit Unions Make.
An active shooter incident takes place somewhere in America roughly once a month, according to the FBI. One expert said few credit unions are prepared.
In an interview with CU Times, PSCU Business Continuity Program Manager James Green highlighted six mistakes credit unions make regarding these tragedies, which have killed or injured more than 1,000 people since 2000.
1. Robbery training is not the same as active shooter training.
"When someone goes in to rob a bank or credit union, they may not have any connection to that physical building at all. Additionally, a robber's goal is theft. They want to get in, they want to get money, they want to get out," Green explained.
An active shooter situation is completely different, he said. The mantra is run, hide and fight.
"The first thing you want to do in an active shooter situation, if you can, is vacate the building as quick as possible," Green explained. "The second one is hide -- behind a door that's locked, behind a door that doesn't have glass, somewhere that you can be barricaded."
"The last one is fight. This is kind of a tricky one to discuss with people," he said. "In the event that you can't run, and in the event that you can't hide, and your life is in imminent danger, then you do want to try to thwart or distract the shooter."
2. A branch is not like an office.
About 75% of the time, active shooters enter through the front door. Other exits can be hard to find in a credit union.
"A credit union branch is a very different than your typical workplace with large cubical farms or large square footage," Green said. "If you're in the branch and you're walking through knowing that most of the time an active shooter will come in through the front door, where are my other exits? Where are my places to hide? Those are very unique because by definition, branches are usually designed to keep money in and people out."
3. The topic warrants a formal program.
"What we've seen in studies right now are about one third of businesses don't have a workplace violence policy or program at all. One third just has a policy, and then one third has a policy and actually trains their employees on those policies," Green said.
Creating a program is an opportunity to look at everyday activities, especially termination processes, in a different light.
"We see a lot of times that the security guards may have the names of those employees, but if they don't have their pictures, how do you know?" he said. "It's very easy to get into a building in this day and age without an employee badge. People may not be aware that you were terminated the day before. You can say you forgot your badge. There's a lot of easy ways to get in."
4. Employees can't just hide in the vault.
That may take too much time, Green said. Most active shooter incidents were over in fewer than five minutes, and one third were over in fewer than two minutes, according to the FBI.
"If a credit union branch tells me it would take me three minutes to get people inside the vault and close the door, that's too long," he said. "If that branch tells me it's going to take 30 seconds, and they've already eliminated the flee or run option, then it's a viable candidate."
5. They don't practice.
Credit unions often have fire and tornado drills, but Green said they rarely have active shooter drills.
"Statistics now say that you are 18 times more likely to be in an active shooter situation at work than you are a fire," he noted. "If you're going to train for two things that are remote possibilities that we hope never happen -- fire and tornadoes -- why not also train for this third plank of active shooters?"
6. Active shooter planning is not optional.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act's general duty clause is increasingly a factor for employers, Green said.
"It's kind of a catch-all clause that's used to protect employees from recognized hazards, and these hazards are things that aren't spelled out elsewhere in the Act," he explained. "What we've seen over the last few years is several U.S. District Courts are saying that active shooters are now a recognized hazard."
Green said OSHA also requires compliance with standards regarding emergency action plans.
"That standard actually says that those plans need to consider every possible emergency," he said. "Just having plans for fire is no longer sufficient."