Active shooter training prepares credit union employees to respond whenever and wherever a shooting occurs. Yet many credit unions have yet to offer it.
“Credit unions’ biggest mistake is not doing this training on the front end,” says Michael A. Petrone, risk management consultant at CUNA Mutual Group.
Credit unions may avoid active shooter training because it’s “not a positive topic,” Petrone says. Some may also make the mistake of assuming robbery training already addresses it.
In reality, robberies and active shooter events differ in ways that require different responses. In a robbery, the criminal typically wants to get money and leave as quickly as possible, which requires a policy with a step-by-step approach.
In an active shooting, the shooter seeks to kill as many people as possible, requiring a policy that offers guidelines for employees who are making highly individual decisions as the situation evolves.
An active shooter policy should highlight the need to provide real-time information to everyone in the credit union, Petrone says.
“Active shooter events are over so quickly that the quicker you pass on information, the more lives could be saved,” he says.
Policies and procedures should also offer guidance on:
• What to do when an employee identifies a potential or current active shooter.
• Emergency/evacuation plans for each location within a branch or office, including how to safely leave the building. The plan should include a schematic of each location that can be shared with law enforcement officials.
• Instructions for resuming operations post-event. These can include access to trauma counselors, who should be identified before an event occurs.
‘Training not only protects staff at work, but also outside of work.’
Rather than dictating a specific response, active shooter training focuses on applying guidelines for three types of responses to active shooter events.
Petrone says these responses include:
Guidelines should allow different people to make different decisions. For example, one employee might decide to flee right away while a coworker might argue about whether gunfire actually occurred.
“When you’re in an active shooter situation, you decide what you feel is right for you: run, hide, fight, or something different,” Petrone says.
He also reminds employees of the value of working together when circumstances allow, such as creating a barrier or immobilizing a solitary shooter who is reloading a weapon.
“There’s typically more of us than there are of them,” Petrone says, “so if we work together we can do it.”
CUNA Mutual offers free active shooter training materials, webinars, and other resources to credit unions that use its risk management and bond services. The Department of Homeland Security and state law enforcement organizations also offer videos, emergency planning guides, and other resources.
No active shooters have targeted a credit union to date. But a thankful credit union employee contacted Petrone after surviving an active shooter situation in another setting.
“This training not only protects staff at work, but also outside of work,” he says.