Melanie Linn, Sales & Product Manager, SafeWood Designs Inc.

A receptionist, the first line of defense, sits behind the front desk near the main entrance of a business to welcome visitors. She is happily performing her daily tasks when she notices a hooded man outside walking towards the entrance of the building. She stands, prepared to greet him, but the smile falls from her face when a small gun is noticed in his right hand, clung tightly at his side. He opens the glass door and steps inside. The lobby has an open hallway leading right into the depths of the building, specifically, to the office spaces of her coworkers. She freezes with fright, not knowing what to do.

Time and time again we read about shootings in the news. They analyze the events that took place, create timelines, and then report about what should have been done to protect the victims. When it comes to gun violence, proactive and preventive measures is the answer. Consider the scenario of our receptionist. What options she does have with no protections or training? Let’s imagine a better scenario:

The receptionist notices a hooded man walking up the path towards the building entrance and shortly thereafter, she sees the handgun. She reaches under her desk and immediately slams the hidden panic button. This button automatically places the building into lockdown while simultaneously sending communication to the local police department. The hooded man tries to open the glass entrance door while the receptionist quickly retreats to the designated safe zone for cover and concealment. All other employees have been notified and quickly join the receptionist in the safe zone to wait for police to arrive. He panics, his plan failing, and attacks the glass. He kicks and his foot bounces off. He slams his shoulder into the door multiple times, throwing his body weight into the assault, but he can’t get through. In one last final attempt, the hooded man fires at the glass. His attempts at entry have been blocked by a bullet resistant storefront enhanced with maglocks that withstand over 1,200 pounds of force. Out of options and hearing the incoming sirens, he flees. The assailant is intercepted by police shortly thereafter.

The difference between life and death in these scenarios is the employer’s decision to implement safety plans and enhance security measures. In an unprotected environment without training, our receptionist is left exposed and the interior of the building completely vulnerable to intrusion. But what could have happened had she not noticed the gun while he was still outside? What if the gunman had managed to enter the building? It is important to understand all vulnerabilities and analyze all possible scenarios to ensure complete protection when implementing safety plans.

In the book If It’s Predictable, It’s Preventable Ted Hayes states “plan ahead and identify your specific safety and security exposures to develop a proactive risk management plan”. Although written with school safety and security in mind, there are many points made that can be implemented at home or where we work. A few of these key takeaways are lockdown plans, secure entrances, crisis communication systems, training, and shelter-in-place plans. The lives of our coworkers, employees, children, friends, and family are worth the preventive measures to ensure they remain safe and secure in the buildings they occupy daily. Together, we can change the narrative and make a difference.

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