Mike Petrone

A scary scenario

Know how to prepare for the unthinkable.

July 17, 2019

When preparing for a possible active shooter situation, think ALICE, says Mike Petrone, CUNA Mutual Group risk consultant.

ALICE stands for:

  • Alert. This involves your initial awareness of an active shooter incident. “Once you’re aware of an event, you need to know how to react,” he says.
  • Lockdown. Know traditional and other lockdown procedures.
  • Inform. Know how and when to pass along real-time information about the event.
  • Counter. Know when it makes sense to counter and/or distract the shooter.
  • Evacuate. Know when to run.

“There’s no special order to these; they’re just designed to help you survive an active shooter incident,” Petrone says. “These events are happening every day, and you need to have preventive measures in place.”

Procedures for robberies and hostage situations are much different than for active shooter incidents, he says. For the latter, employees should remain calm and polite, follow the perpetrator’s instructions, and not attempt to escape.

“For active shooters, all bets are off,” Petrone says. “You need to do anything you can to survive.”

Generally, that means taking one of three options:

  1. Run. Your first priority is to get away from the active shooter.
  2. Hide. If you can’t evacuate safely, fortify your position, aim to avoid detection, and wait for law enforcement.
  3. Fight. If all else fails—only when your life is in imminent danger—attempt to incapacitate the shooter with physical aggression.

Some credit unions want staff to carry weapons in the event of an active shooter. Petrone advises against this.

“It’s not a good idea,” he says. “Your success rate of hitting a target with all of the adrenaline and fear is very small. And if police see you with a gun, they’ll shoot you.”

Ninety-six percent of the time these events involve only one shooter. “So you’re probably better off running the opposite direction of gunfire.”

Other advice Petrone offers:

  • Establish and regularly review policies, procedures, and guidelines for dealing with an active shooter.
  • Inform staff of the three courses of action: run, hide, or fight.
  • Set realistic emergency and evacuation plans by location.
  • Have primary and secondary exit plans.
  • Be familiar with floor plans, and identify exit doors, hiding places, locking rooms, and connecting rooms.
  • Consider objects that could aid in your defense.
  • Learn the different sounds weapons make.
  • Address how to share information with employees.
  • Contract with crisis response professionals in advance.

“Know the steps to protect yourself,” he says.

Petrone addressed the 2019 America’s Credit Union Conference.