Tragic events in our communities involving active shooters are forcing all organizations to prepare for unthinkable situations, including some that have hit close to home for credit unions.
The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”
While incidents in credit unions haven’t risen, nationally they have increased each year by an average of 24.4%, amounting to 11.4 incidents per year, according to a 2014 FBI study.
Could an active shooter situation occur at your credit union?
The reality is, it can happen anywhere. Many credit unions are located near the types of facilities where recent incidents have occurred, such as schools, campuses, and military bases.
Claims involving active shooters for credit union policyholders have been very minimal over the years, says Michael McKinley, senior claims manager for CUNA Mutual Group.
"Of course, credit unions are susceptible to these traumatic events, but in most cases, we have only seen the more typical robbery event, where the robber flashes a weapon or states that one is in his or her possession,” he says.
How to prepare
Preparing for these unfortunate and traumatic events requires a different plan and approach than what a credit union might have in place for a robbery.
Preparation, planning, and training are the most important pieces.
McKinley recommends developing a procedure so employees know what to do during and after an active shooter incident, with these three elements in mind:
1. Run or evacuate. Your first priority should be to get away from the shooter, ideally by exiting the building. You should run even if others don’t.
If you’re not near an exit, run in the opposite direction from where the shooting comes and look for another means of escape.
2. Hide. If you can’t exit the building, you should hide. Hiding places can vary depending on your location in relation to the shooter.
Ideally, find a lockable room without a glass door or windows. No matter what type of room you find, once inside you should barricade the entrance.
The barricade should consist of large items such as copiers, desks, tables, file cabinets, chairs, or any piece of furniture. Use tables and refrigerators if you’re in a kitchen or break room.
You could also hide under a desk, or in a cubicle, closet, or restroom.
3. Fight back. As a last resort—if your life is in imminent danger—you should fight back. Remain quiet if you’re hiding and the active shooter approaches.
If you believe your hiding place will be compromised, stay quiet and try to catch the shooter off-guard, leveraging the element of surprise.
“Once fighting back becomes your only course of action you must be committed to it. You might have to use something in your vicinity as a weapon—something like a chair or fire extinguisher,” says Robert Jarosinski, senior risk management consultant for CUNA Mutual Group.