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Three quarters of US organizations list an active shooter situation as their top threat, according to Everbridge, Inc. Active shooter situations outrank concerns such as natural disasters, cyber attacks and supply chain disruptions. This is a key finding of a survey for the Active Shooter Preparedness Report, compiled by Everbridge in partnership with Security Management magazine. The findings, when compared to Everbridge’s inaugural report from 2016, portray a corporate environment with heightened security awareness, which has not, however, translated into tangible preparedness efforts for the majority of organizations.

More than twice as many respondents felt that their organization was well prepared for an active shooter incident in 2018 – up from 19 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2018. More than two-thirds also reported that their organization was more prepared than two years ago. However, there seems to be a discrepancy between perceptions and actions. For example:

  • 62 percent of survey respondents reported never running an active shooter drill;
  • 54 percent have not conducted active shooter education;
  • Only 15 percent increased physical security spending;
  • Only 35 percent plan to increase physical security spending in the future.

“Every second matters in an active shooter situation,” said Tracy Reinhold, Chief Security Officer of Everbridge. “The findings show that while corporate recognition around the threat of active shooters has improved, the tangible preparedness measures and location-aware communication infrastructure is not in place to improve safety at the majority of companies nationwide. It’s imperative that we work together to refine our security-related processes and investments. Physical safety is a critical employee engagement issue that corporate leadership must take seriously by turning their concerns into investments.”

Communication needs to take place in seconds, not minutes

The majority of organizations (70 percent) said that their top concern during an active shooter event is communicating and confirming the safety of impacted employees, as the majority of active shooter situations are over in less than 10 minutes. 80 percent of employees prefer that it take seconds for their companies to notify them of an active shooter situation. Yet when asked how long it would take to notify employees of an incident, two-thirds of companies thought that notifications would take minutes.
“These findings directly contradict the idea that organizations are prepared for an active shooter event,” continued Reinhold. “While no organization can truly be ready to deal with such a chaotic and challenging situation, ignoring the need to have a reliable system in place to effectively locate and communicate with employees, responders and other local officials – and not practicing an organization-wide response to such a situation – proves that improvements can still be made. Moreover, the prevalence and purported elevated concerns around these threats emphasizes the need for corporate leadership and executive teams to more emphatically support the investments and process changes required to ensure employee safety and operational resiliency.”

The Active Shooter Preparedness Report is based on surveyed responses from over 630 security, facilities, business continuity and emergency management professionals. The survey took place in the fourth quarter of 2018.

To download a copy of the report, please click here.

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