Your Active Shooter Drills Are Doing More Harm Than Good


Active shooter drills almost always have the opposite effect of what they are meant to accomplish. Instead of making your employees more safe safe, they are making the attackers more effective.

At Many Workplaces, Training For A New Threat: Active Shooters” serves as an informative primer for those not conversationally familiar with the safety challenges confronting today’s business leaders.

The coverage provides an informative insight into the en vogue practice of “preparedness training” which is currently being replicated across a cottage industry of providers. Also referenced, is the reality that the only real take-away many of these training programs provide is nothing more than a false sense of security.

“The San Bernardino facility attacked in December conducted monthly active-shooter trainings. One might be tempted to say it didn’t work…”

They didn’t work because the offenders were intimately familiar with how vulnerable they were. They took part in those trainings too.

Your employees do not want to be burdened by fear. They want to learn practical ways to protect themselves. They want to be rewarded for their effort.

So what are organizations to do?

Instead of fear-based training, try empowering your employees with the protective awareness they need to ensure their own safety in an emergency.

Employee awareness is the single greatest source of protective intelligence available to any business of any size.

Today’s safety is more about promoting social accountability and rewarding awareness than it is about Run/Hide/Fight. It’s about understanding that everyday safety requires the participation of everyone.

If you are responsible for the safety of your organization, what you really want to accomplish are these two things:

First: Improve the everyday awareness of your employees with the knowledge they need to save themselves in an emergency. Help them to have a plan, to know where to go, and know how to get there.

Think of this in terms of an airline safety brief. Empower them with a course of action, but leave enough room for personal improvisation to thwart the expectations of an offender.

Second: Reward participation in your awareness and reporting program. Even if you can only get one out of ten people to go along, you’ll have increased your protective intelligence model by ten percent.

Try doing something that engages everyone.

Option 1: Make safety a game that has a near-immediate reward.

Example: “Mindfulness Mondays” (see below)

Hide an orange envelope somewhere in your complex.

Tape it to a fire extinguisher (helps remind staff where they are) or near an emergency exit (helps with their personal planning.)

You could even “hide” it in plain sight — like the lobby — where most people don’t pay attention to their surroundings because they are operating on auto-pilot.

Send out a Monday morning email to help get the game started:


Give away a $20 iTunes gift card once a week. Dinner for two once a month. For $200/month ($80 in gift cards or cash and $120 in a restaurant gift card) you can dramatically increase the overall protective intelligence and safety awareness of your organization. This will have a much more favorable impact on your organization than paying some talking head a few thousand dollars to come out and speak to your organization about stuff you’ll never incorporate because you’re employees don’t really want it in the first place.

Option 2: “Bottle Cap” safety tips you can update each week.

Utilizing a similar template as above, use this platform to engage your employees on everyday safety insights that can help promote their own protective posture.


  • There are nine emergency exits in the building. Can you name where they are? Email us the answers for a chance to win a prize;
  • If there’s a building evacuation do you have a safe-haven identified within walking distance of work? Can you name three places nearby? Email answers for a chance to win a prize. Remember not to congregate near the building;
  • Did you know that 911 is less effective from your mobile phone than it is from the phone on your desk? If you have to dial 911, use a landline when possible so the dispatcher can trace your physical location instead of the cell phone tower relaying your call. Do you know which side of the building faces north? Email the compass direction of the main entrance for your chance to win a prize.

Awareness + Preparation = Safety

Unlike active shooter drills which burden employees with fear, try promoting practices which will empower them with their own sense of preparedness. Because guess what? Now when they see something of real consequence, they already have the contact email in their phone. They have already demonstrated a willingness to participate. They are primed and ready to play an active role in their own safety more than ever before.

Let’s stop the fear-based training.

We are smarter today than we were yesterday.