Local buildings participate in active threat trainings

Courtesy the American Red Cross of Colorado website

Todd Decker, AIA
Regional preparedness lead, American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming

Last year, we wrote encouraging facility managers, building owners and operators to train their staff and tenants on active threat situations. Over the past 12 months, media coverage shows us that the threats continue, however, we have seen progress in addressing the anxiety. The clients we have trained report improvements in readiness, and confidence and an easing of tension.

For example, 1001 17th Street is a multitenant, high-rise in downtown Denver. We were able to customize our active shooter response training to incorporate the building’s detailed security plans. The training dovetailed the individual’s empowerment to react in their best interest, with the specific resources and features of a high-rise office building. The tenants learned transferable skills that they can carry with them as well as how to visualize those skills in the exact environment where they spend a good portion of the day. Just as importantly, building management communicated the nuances of their resources and preparedness in a context specific to active threats. The effect on the culture of the building has been noticeable.

The training was beneficial in an operational sense because the building is better prepared for emergency situations, said Tom Witte with Vector Properties. “This allows us to have an active rather than reactive attitude,” he said. “The active shooter response training and stop-the-bleed trainings have also helped our tenants and customers feel empowered rather than helpless to the circumstances.”

Swallow Hill Music Hall is a decidedly different environment. With classrooms and performance space blending into a dynamic facility that at times is institutional and other times very public, its staff plays many roles. The Red Cross provided response and treatment training in conjunction with active threats. Not only did Swallow Hill achieve similar results to 1001 17th St., but also it was able to accomplish necessary training in a format specific to its facility.

“The peace of mind these trainings provide is hard to quantify, but it is definitely a big benefit,” said Jessy Clark with Swallow Hill Music. “It also helps with OSHA compliance, and that is a huge benefit as well.”

Julianna Lochte, business and organization preparedness manager at the Red Cross, reports consistent results from a large list of clients. “The Save a Life Denver program is making terrific progress,” she said. “The feedback we get lets us know that our approach of providing active threat training in an empowering and nonthreatening tone is appropriate and is reaching people.”

Clients as varied as Ball Corp. and Regional Transportation District to general contractors, breweries and public health organizations have experienced these benefits.

The success of the program can be attributed to the training format. The preparedness portions of the training cover skills for identifying threats, situational awareness, understanding individual response options and what law enforcement response looks like. Opening these up to dialogue and visualization, without the overwhelming or shocking content, does a lot to eliminate the unknown and reduce anxiety.

The Red Cross has proven itself in disaster situations over more than a century of active response. That same commitment is focused on active threats and is tailored to this threat’s unique profile. The Red Cross has put together a set of materials based on widely accepted best practices supported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Association. The American Red Cross has an expertise and a vast network of resources in regard to business preparedness. The broad range of Red Cross trainings include:

  • Business readiness evaluation;
  • Writing effective emergency plans and protocols;
  • Leading hazard vulnerability assessments;
  • Customized hazard and safety trainings;
  • Response and treatment: stop the bleeding, hands-only CPR, first aid/CPR/AED, disaster behavioral health;
  • Active threats: Run, hide, fight; and
  • Disaster training and exercise observation/analysis.

We are offering active threat and stop-the-bleeding training sessions free to businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. This training will prepare organizations to recognize when an event is happening, teach steps to help prepare workers to respond, and includes basic training on first aid and bleeding control.

More information on this program and requests for training can be found on the Save a Life Denver website: www.savealifedenver.org


Facts about active threats and the workplace

  • One in four employees know at least one person who has been threatened with violence in the workplace.
  • Many employees are interested in first aid training and other actions to take during an emergency.
  • About 30 percent of employees say they are concerned about workplace violence emergencies, and 40 percent of employees say they would like to learn more about how to respond in these situations.
  • Some 87 percent of human resource managers agree that formal training on workplace violence would make their organization more prepared.
  • Employees are very interested in learning about actions to take during an incident of workplace violence.
  • Since 2013, an active shooter incident has occurred every two to three weeks in the U.S., with increasing frequency since this date.
  • More than 1,270 people have been killed or wounded in 200 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2015.

Source: Corona Insights Workplace Violence Training Research


Featured in CREJ’s January 2019 Property Management Quarterly

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.