place without clear communication before, during and
after a critical incident. The language plays a critical role
in an active threat response program and can dictate the
program’s success or failure. Such language should be
consistent with current policies and procedures so the
program is both effective and legally defensible.
Each company will need to tailor its active threat
response plan to fit its culture and workplace environment.
Thankfully, a simple concept utilized by premier agencies
already exists so organizations may build a clear and
Communication during a critical incident is by no means
limited to employees, but extends to customer interaction
as well. How company communicates around and with
customers during an active threat incident can play a vital
role in minimizing harm and mitigating supplemental harm
as a result of panic.
Every active threat mitigation plan should include an
emergency communication strategy which may contain one
or two common components. First is the use of a code like
“Code Adam” alerting employees to a specific issue while
customers and vendors remain unaware of any possible
issues. The second option is to use simple language so that
everyone quickly gains situational awareness. For example,
instead of using “Code Red” for an active shooter incident,
the alert would announce there is an active shooter
situation in progress so employees, customers and vendors
can take decisive actions to seek safety.
Every active threat situation will unfold differently,
especially since external factors such as the weather,
type of environment and other variables can present
unpredictable outcomes. By being proactive over what
can be controlled, such as implementing sound training
strategies, companies can be prepared for and respond
to an active threat to the best of its ability. Through the
empowerment of its most valuable assets — its people
— companies can mitigate risks, protect the safety of its
employees, customers, and community.
Jay Hart is Director of Force Training Institute (FTI),
a Los Angeles-based consulting firm specializing in
critical incident response and active shooter mitigation
training. Founded and operated by former and current
military and law enforcement officials, FTI has rendered
service to industry leaders such as Rite Aid, Ford, REI,
Gap and Boeing.