Mass Shooting and Your Workplace: Know the Signs of a Looming Threat and Understand Mitigation Techniques to Protect Your Team: Risk and Insurance

Axiom Medical recently hosted a webinar titled “What Drives Irrational Thinking and Mass Victim Events” to discuss the cause of this violent behavior and how to protect ourselves and our workplaces.

As of this writing in mid-June, the number of mass shootings the US has suffered in 2022 is 233. That number is sure to grow before this piece is edited and published.

Axiom Medical recently hosted a webinar titled “What is Driving Irrational Thinking and Mass Victim Events” to discuss what is causing this violent behavior and how to protect ourselves and our workplaces.

“The standard definition of mass shooting is an incident in which three or more people are shot and killed, including the perpetrator,” said Dr. Les Kertay, senior vice president, behavioral health, Axiom Medical.

“In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, we have seen a notable decrease in the level of violent crime. And in the second year, we have seen a nice increase. It is too early to tell if it is continuing. It is important to note that violent crime in general, even if we have had this impact, is at historically low levels. “

That said, mass incidents occur everywhere, from small towns to big cities, from schools to grocery stores, and it is difficult to predict when and where an event will occur.

Would better mental health treatment help?

The short answer to the question above is simply no. At the same time, it’s a complicated answer.

“One of the things that is really important to know when it comes to violence in general, as well as mass shootings, is that there are really two different types of violence,” said Kertay.

“Most of the violence is actually emotional and we can, in fact, predict that type of violence with some behavioral observations. We can see that people are starting to deteriorate and will often be amenable to mental health treatment ”.

On the other hand, predatory violence is typically well planned, carefully thought out, and usually wired – not always, but usually the perpetrator will let people know they are thinking about this type of violence.

“And generally, predatory violence isn’t a mental health problem,” Kertay said.

“We mean ‘it’s mental health,’ because imagining someone taking guns and shooting more people is too difficult for most people to imagine themselves in that position. It is so different from most people’s understanding that the abusive person must be mentally ill. In fact, this type of violent person typically doesn’t respond to treatment. We have to find ways to stop those people from doing what they are doing and intervene in a different way. “

Kertay pointed out that while having conversations about access to mental health is crucial, when we start talking about mass shootings, it only increases the mental health stigma.

“And in fact, people with mental health problems aren’t more likely to be violent in general. So, I think it’s really very important to remember, ”Kertay said.

Commonly overlooked warning signs

If we go back to that distinction between predatory violence and emotional violence and if we think about emotional violence, we usually look for behavioral changes in people.

“We all know people who scream at every meeting. It’s probably not something I care about. But when someone who is generally quiet starts to explode, I pay attention, ”Kertay said.

“On the flip side, some signs include unexpected indications of isolation and people withdrawing from other people. In both affective and predatory violence, isolation is a huge component. It is really important to pay attention. “

And when it comes to mass shootings, it’s far more common for people to have indicated to someone – nowadays often on social media – that they have intentions.

As Kertay pointed out, these people may be thinking, “I’ve been ostracized. I’ve been hurt by other people. I have been isolated from other people. I am angry. I am going to do something about it. I will act and take control, because I felt really out of control and hurt, so I will take control. “

“It’s actually quite rational to them, yet it seems terribly irrational to us. But if you follow the logic, it’s actually quite logical. And the way to intervene, if there are any warning signs of any kind, is to prevent the person from doing what for them is a rational act. Whenever someone says something about it, we have to take it seriously, ”Kertay said.

“It doesn’t matter if it sounds like a casual comment. There is no random comment. We must pay attention to these things and do everything possible to intervene ”.

Active Shooter Survival Recommendations

As for advice from active shooters or any type of event that resulted in a mass crash, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Anthony Merino, vendor manager, Axiom Medical, and First Class Sergeant, United States Army (retired), said it’s critical to be aware, be prepared, and if you see something, say something.

“Observe any warning signs. If you are familiar with the area, you understand what is striking you and which could present a potential problem. And always have an exit plan, “Merino said.” If you have the option of getting certifications like CPR, First Aid, or Stop the Bleed, go for it. “

Additionally, you always want to have an emergency operation plan for your organization, whether it’s something like a fire drill or, like in hospitals, it has different codes for different situations.

Merino advised companies to develop a plan and effectively train the appropriate people based on that plan.

“You want to train often and you want to try to make it as realistic as possible and take it as seriously as possible,” Merino said. “You want to be prepared and ready to act. You have to get that muscle memory to work, so train.

If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, the first thing you do is run and walk away from the situation.

“If you hear shots, screams or whatever, don’t freeze. Try to get away from the noise. Find out where it came from and step away from it, ”Merino said.

“Find the closest way out, be it a window or a door, and try to get out as quickly as possible. Also, stay away from fatal areas of the funnel such as crowded entrance doors and exit doors.

When you leave, go to your collection point. Keep your hands visible if you approach the police officers to show them that you have nothing in your hands.

“If you see the killer or whoever the perpetrator is, give the police a description of what’s going on so they have some information before they enter the building,” Merino said.

If you can’t run, hide. When you hide, find a place to barricade yourself and lock the door. Turn off all the lights, turn down, shut up. If you have to barricade yourself, you have to stack objects against the door in a linear fashion.

“While you are there, you want to develop a plan. Are there any guns nearby or fire extinguishers, other things you can use to defend yourself? ”Merino said.

Change starts with us

As conversations continue about mass shooting incidents in the United States, companies are turning their attention to their risks and the measures they can take.

In addition to the above, the Axiom Medical team stressed the importance of remembering that the basic foundation of leadership is understanding those who work with you, under you and beside you. Know and understand them, be part of them, leading from the front.

“If you’re not doing it, then that’s the first problem,” Kertay said.

“You must know those around. You need to be aware of those around you and check their heart rate on what’s going on. &

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Maura Keller is a writer, publisher and author of published books with over 20 years of experience. She has written on business, design, marketing, healthcare and a wide range of other topics for dozens of regional and national publications. She can be reached at [email protected]