Training Your Hotel Employees to Manage an Active Shooter Situation
By Kurt Meister Senior Vice President , Distinguished Programs | July 07, 2019
If a gunman opens fire inside your hotel, will your employees know how to respond? It's a question that hospitality leaders are asking more often these days. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the number of active shooter events grew from 20 in 2016 to 30 in 2017, claiming 943 lives over that two-year period.
Those statistics make it clear why an active shooter situation ranks high on the list of security concerns for U.S. hotels. And without proper employee training, a hotel has no chance of handling such a situation correctly.
The FBI defines an active shooter as "specific to one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area," with one or more firearms. From a wider perspective, active shooter events also may include incidents involving other weapons, such as knives or explosive devices. And while mass casualty events such as the October 2017 Mandalay Bay shooting grab headlines, many active shooter situations start as a small altercation involving one or two individuals with weapons. These events typically have a specific target (a jilted lover or a man insulted during a barroom conversation) and involve fewer people.
No matter the size or scope, active shooter events present serious challenges for all U.S. hotels. Most don't have security officers or off-duty police on-site, and if they do, those officers typically aren't armed. U.S. hotels also don't have Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-style checkpoints, which means people may come and go as they please.
So, how does a U.S. hotel general manager walk the fine line between providing a welcoming "home away from home" for guests and protecting both guests and employees from bad actors? The answer is creating a solid and effective training plan.
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