By Chloe Demrovsky, Forbes, August 10, 2019
One week ago, America yet again faced tragedy as gunmen in two unrelated incidents shot into crowds at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and an active nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio. The combined death toll stands at 31. The nation is in near perpetual mourning and grim about the prospect of facing more mass shootings. Terrorism, whether domestic or international, has a broad effect on our collective wellbeing that extends far beyond the immediate tragedy. Constant vigilance takes energy and can have effects that are difficult to measure. This unease can cause widespread panic as was observed when motorcycles backfired in Times Square this week and the crowd reacted as though it was another active shooter.
We are left with a sense of unease and a need to respond to something that feels intangible. While we may not know the exact nature of the threat or how or when it will manifest, we can and should prepare for the potential effects. We can talk to our families, our friends, our employees, our colleagues about how they are feeling and what they are doing to prepare for events like these. How does it affect us? How does it affect business and performance at work? Is your team carrying fears for their personal safety that they might not even want to acknowledge in the workplace?
Strong leadership will be required to address this traumatic topic in a caring and meaningful way. To help prepare, every kind of organization needs to have an emergency action plan for how to address active shooter terrorism and other forms of workplace violence. The protection of employees, customers and other stakeholders needs to be at the center of any plan and this must be reinforced through a comprehensive, sensitive and effective awareness and training program. The plan must also take into account the regulatory environment and should include a mechanism for coordination with public agencies that would be involved such as the police and fire departments.