By Leah Fertig
Active and mass shooting events have been filling our news feeds recently both nationally, such as the New Zealand shooting at two mosques on March 15, and locally, including the most recent school shooting at Frederick Douglas High School in Baltimore, MD on February 8. According to published crime statistics, there were 340 mass shooting incidents in our nation last year; a total of 373 people were killed and 1,347 were injured. One would like to think that once the shock of the tragedy is over and loved ones are laid to rest or those injured are released from hospitals that the effects of mass shootings end there. Sadly, that’s not the case; there are long-lasting, negative emotional effects that continue for weeks, months and lifetimes.
When it comes to mass shootings, it’s important to realize it’s not only those directly connected to a tragedy who feel the long-lasting effects. For example, the Frederick Douglas High School shooting in Baltimore did not only affect the victim who was injured, but also the entire student body and the institution’s staff, faculty and administrators. Trauma comes in many forms and is unique to each individual and how they, and their families, cope.
The National Center for PTSD explains there are four phases following mass violence: Impact, Rescue, Recovery and Reconstruction (Long-Term). They state, “While the majority of affected individuals will see a lessening of distress over time in the long-term phase, vulnerable populations such as those with injury, severe disaster exposure or ongoing adversities, may continue to suffer for years after a large-scale disaster or mass violence event.” This March, we lost 3 lives to suicide that were all connected to school massacres and post-traumatic stress. Some may wear their pain on their sleeves while others may bottle it up and outwardly project that they’re not struggling inside – a struggle that has the potential to evolve into a future tragedy.
There seems to be no limit to the location in which an active-shooter tragedy can occur; they happen in places we should feel the safest, such as places of worship, malls, movie theaters, concerts and schools. It is imperative for businesses and institutions to understand that although not all crises can be prevented, you can certainly prepare for those worst-case scenarios, such as an active shooter. Have you done all you can to protect your people, secure your assets and strengthen your brand?
Call or email today to start building the organizational muscle memory you need to give employees the tools and confidence to survive a very high stress, sudden and volatile event. There is no question, lockdowns save lives; you must be prepared as the first order of leadership is to provide a safe place to live, work and raise a family.