Active Shooter Readiness: How to Create an Emergency Action Plan

Posted by Zosi Team

The number of active shooter incidents in the United States is currently 20% higher than in 2020. The words alone are enough to instill a sense of dread, let alone the statistics.

These incidents threaten our worker safety and security, weaken public confidence, and take a devastating toll on affected communities. While this isn’t something anyone wants to imagine happening in their workplace, every company needs to prepare for an active shooter incident.

Creating an Emergency Action Plan

As you begin to think about active shooter readiness, consider your company’s current Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Determine if active shooter preparedness fits in with what’s already in place. Remember, the demands of an active shooter incident are so unique that many companies develop an EAP for this alone.

The first step in building your EAP is to assemble a Collaborative Planning Team. This is a task force of four to ten people who represent a diverse set of skills, abilities, and subsets within your company and community. For example, someone from Human Resources may bring to the table a knowledge of how to work with labor laws, while a facility manager can assess the physical aspects of your workplace. Persons with disabilities or other functional needs should also be considered as you build out your Collaborative Planning Team.

Here are some major areas your team will want to address:

Look for ways to mitigate risks
Consider physical security
Address practical elements

Look for ways to mitigate risk. Workplace shooters are often called “injustice collectors” or people who let their frustrations build until violence feels like their only option. Your employees must understand how to recognize the warning signs signaling someone may resort to violence. Ensure a clear reporting process is in place. What types of information are reportable and who should the employee report to? How will you build awareness of the reporting process with employees? What can you do to develop and sustain a culture of reporting?

Another way to mitigate risk is to look for opportunities to build community within the workplace. Provide opportunities for positive social interaction. Creating an environment where everyone feels involved and included decreases the risk of individual employees becoming marginalized

Consider physical security. Physical security is your last line of defense in an active shooter incident. Work with all necessary teams to consider the point-of-view of both active shooters and law enforcement. You’ll want to create barriers to entry. This looks like changing the parking lot setup, securing entrances and exits, adding security cameras to the premises, or hiring more on-site security staff. Consider taking advantage of free evaluation programs offered by the Department of Homeland Security and local police departments that will help you recognize weaknesses and ways to improve your physical security.

Address practical elements. Your EAP should detail:

Evacuation procedures
Escape routes
Safe areas
Who to notify in an emergency
Who will take roll call to account for employees
Notification systems and social media platforms used to communicate during an active shooter incident


Creating an Emergency Action Plan is the first step toward active shooter preparedness. As you progress in your path to readiness, properly training your employees in how to prevent, prepare, and respond is a crucial next step. Zosi offers free online Active Shooter Preparedness training for employees and managers. To learn more about courses, click here.

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