Is Your Organization At Risk? Take These 5 Steps To Create An Emergency Action Plan Today

By March 4, 2019 No Comments

It’s no secret that mass violence is a serious problem in our society. As a business leader, it’s important to take thoughtful steps toward preventing issues before they occur within your organization. Developing a plan that establishes protocols in the event of an emergency won’t only help you prevent a tragedy – it will also show your team that you are willing to invest time and resources into their wellbeing and peace of mind.

Active shooter scenarios are arguably the most impactful incidents of workplace violence, and therefore, should always be clearly addressed in an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Commonwealth Insurance Advantage Risk Manager, Kris Cousins, adds, “Every organization should have a clear, well-written Emergency Action Plan in place. When it comes to preventing and mitigating issues, these plans are crucial. They make sure that everyone from senior management to support staff is on the same page.” Below, we discuss the elements of an effective EAP that addresses active shooter scenarios.


Creating an Emergency Action Plan

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides numerous resources for ​EAP initial steps​, including ​templates​ and specific guides for active shooter scenarios. DHS suggests the following steps for adding this component to your EAP:

Step 1: Form a Collaborative Planning Team

  • The members of this team should represent diverse perspectives and include key segments of the organization, including senior management. It is recommended that teams contain at least four members to ensure diversity of awareness and less than ten members to avoid an unmanageable group.

Step 2: Develop an Active Shooter Prevention Plan

  • DHS recommends starting this step with their ​Pathway to Violence video​ and incorporating it into employee training. The Pathway to Violence video centers around “observable steps” leading up to an attack, defined as follows: Grievance | Violent Ideation | Research and Planning | Pre-Attack Preparation | Probing and Breaching.
  • Next, they suggest describing reporting mechanisms in detail, including who to report information to and what is considered reportable.
  • Finally, DHS urges organizations to remember that “Awareness + Action = Prevention” so intervention tools such as human resources and law enforcement are important.

Step 3: Conduct a Risk Assessment

  • Risk assessments can be external or internal, depending on resources. For workplace violence specifically, DHS urges employers to remember OSHA’s ​general duty clause which states that each employer “shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

Step 4: Establish Goals and Objectives

  • Goals and objectives will result from the risk assessment and should include consideration of the following issues: access control to the premises, notification and evacuation, emergency responder coordination, accountability, and communications management.
  • From these goals and objectives, Courses of Action (COAs) can be produced with specific protocols to train employees.

Step 5: Draft and Approve Plan

  • The EAP should be drafted in plain language using the active voice. DHS notes that flow charts and checklists are the best way to help different types of learners absorb key information. Providing the final plan in various formats (electronic, print, etc.) increases the likelihood that employees will remember the plan and easily access it in the event of an emergency.


Mass Violence is Increasing

According to the most recent ​FBI document​ on active shooters, the number of incidents from all causes (excluding gang or drug-related violence) increased from 40 incidents in the 2014 – 2015 reporting period to 50 incidents in 2016 – 2017. This jump resulted in a matching increase in casualties, from 231 to 943. Twenty of the 50 incidents met the FBI definition of a “mass killing” in which three or more people die in a single incident. Texas led the nation with six incidents, though incidents were spread across 21 states. Although still rare, mass shootings are increasing in frequency. With this knowledge, an active approach to prevention is key.

Active Threat Solutions (A.T.S.) is a new insurance program offered by Commonwealth Insurance Advantage, providing remote or on-site training, immediate hotline assistance, and additional qualified personnel assistance if a violent incident were to occur. This new program is a third-party liability coverage for lawsuits, on-site disaster assistance, and counseling services in conjunction with services provided by an industry-leading crisis management solutions company.

A.T.S. is unique in today’s marketplace – providing essential coverage to small and mid-sized businesses, municipal operations, education providers, and many others. To learn more about how your organization can benefit from the Active Threat Solutions program, ​visit our website​ or email us at