Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness

How to Survive an Active Shooter Incident

shooterIn the not so distant past, most members of the general population were unfamiliar with the term, “active shooter.” Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, due to the frequency of recent active shooter events. Despite increased security most organizations have developed of late, according to the FBI, the number of active shooter incidences has tripled in recent years. And is it just me or have the incidences of cat cartoons also tripled recently?

A group of former Navy SEALS is trying to change the paradigm, joining forces in 2008 to form an organization aimed at helping civilians learn how to best respond to active shooter situations in the minutes before first responders arrive. The group, Move2Safety spent the recent one-year anniversary of the Newtown shooting offering an instructional seminar to a group of 50 people in Los Angeles.

“It…feels like the world has become a global battlefield,” said Move2Safety President Rorke. “Our background is in Special Forces and, as Navy Seals; we train for the possible worst case scenarios.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also stepped up to prepare people for active shooter incidences, preparing free resources which offer helpful instructions.

“An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempts to kill people in a confined and populated area,” according to DHS. “In most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method used to their selection of victims.”

Because active shooter situations are often over 10-15 minutes after they begin, and before law enforcement officers are able to arrive on scene, it is particularly important for individuals to understand how to prepare themselves mentally and physically to deal with active shooter situations. If you are ever in an active shooter situation: run, hide or fight…in that order!

DHS offers access to best practices for coping with active shooter situations. If you follow these simple steps, your chance of being a victim could be greatly reduced:

  1. Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
  2. Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
  3. If it is at all possible, run so you are out of danger.
  4. If escape is impossible, find a place to hide. If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.
  5. If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
  6. Only as a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her. If it was me, I’d bite the perp.
  7. CALL 911 WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO!

The DHS Active Shooter booklet includes comprehensive instructions for evacuating, hiding, responding when law enforcement arrives, training staff members for active shooter situations [including creating an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)], as well as additional suggestions for preparing for and preventing active shooter situations.

If you would like to make advanced preparations for active shooter incidents, you could take advantage of an independent study course offered by DHS, entitled “Active Shooter: What You Can Do.” The course was developed to provide the public with guidance on how to prepare for and respond to active shooter crisis situations.

Upon completion of Active Shooter: What You Can Do, people should be able to:

  • Describe the actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and to assist responding law enforcement officials.
  • Recognize potential workplace violence indicators.
  • Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents.
  • Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident.

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services also offers detailed information and video instruction about active shooter preparation and survival. When active shooter incidents or other disasters strike, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

More Lessons Learned in the 10 Years since 9/11

9/11 Lessons Learned

Part 3 in our continuing series

September 11, 2001, this series of blog posts do not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

Since August is U.S. Army Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month, and with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we are devoting five weeks to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack. In our third installment this week, here are two more lessons we’ve learned:

1. Security-related incidents will likely impact transportation and travel.

The 9/11 attacks affected public transit, commuter rail, commercial vehicles and ferries, and resulted in the need for significant road repairs. What’s more, the way people travel has shifted since the now infamous act of terrorism on our country. According to the U.S. Travel Association:

  • Business travel was hit particularly hard by 9/11. Between 2011 and 2010, total volume declined, as businessmen and women exercised the option of replacing short business trips with conference calls.
  • The good news is that American leisure travel, on the other hand, has been resilient. Despite long lines and other symptoms of policies implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the leisure segment has seen a 17% increase in travel since 2001.
  • International leisure travel to the U.S. basically lost an entire decade following the attacks. While global long-haul travel increased by 40%. During the same period, overseas travel to the United States rose by less than 2%.

While the travel industry reels, emergency management professionals strategize about ways to ensure safety for anyone traveling to or within the United States. Carefully monitoring and protecting travelers has become a critical part of safeguarding our nation. If you’ve flown since 2001, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the effects of heightened security at our nation’s airports. Among the changes:

  • Restricted Items—box cutters and other sharp objects as well as large quantities of liquids and gels are no longer allowed on airplanes.
  • Heightened security on aircraft—cockpit doors are bulletproof to prevent unauthorized access. Pilots also have the option to carry a gun. And more air marshals have been placed on flights. Curtains that used to divide first class and coach cabins have been removed.
  • Improved security screening—many passengers are patted down, everyone has to remove jackets, shoes and belts before passing through security checkpoints. Even casual comments made in passing (relative to terrorism or hijacking) are taken seriously.
  • Tighter Identification checks—all passengers must carry valid IDs.

Since restrictions could be placed on domestic and international travel in the event of another attack, systems have been put in place to alert citizens if it becomes necessary to ask residents to evacuate and/or avoid certain roads or areas for safety.

2. Law enforcement involvement is necessary at local, state and federal levels due to the criminal nature of any and all terrorist attacks. Most counter-terrorism strategies involve an increase in standard police and local authorities. But did you know that you can play a part to aid officials in their efforts to protect the public?

  • Keep your eyes open and report suspicious activities to local agencies. The best way to do this is to become familiar with your surroundings so you will notice anything out of the ordinary.
  • The Army’s iWATCH Program encourages people to identify and report suspicious behavior that may be associated with terrorist activities.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encourages people to help authorities by suggesting: If you see something, say something. If you notice suspicious activity, report it to your local police department. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.
  • Since attacks can come in the 3-D world or cyber space, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team offers a US-Cert Incident Reporting System. Learn to identify potential threats to your cyber security along with your physical safety.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Aftermath of the Raid in Pakistan

drawing of Osama Bin Laden
How to Remain Vilgilant Following Osama Bin Laden's Death.

After the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and his subsequent death, some law enforcement officials and property owners are concerned about the threat of new terrorist attacks. Congratulations are in order for the brave soldiers who risk their lives overseas. But are we any more at risk than we were prior to Bin Laden’s death?

Many residents of the United Kingdom consider a new attack to be likely. In fact, the U.K. Metropolitan Police Commissioner warned that: “Vigilance should be our watchword.”

In the United States, the presence of security personnel has been beefed up in numerous locations. Still, despite the perceived risk of potential terrorist repercussions, the official terror threat level in the United States was not elevated following the announcement of Bin Laden’s death. (The new alert system differs from the former multi-color-coded system in that it only offers two-threat levels— “elevated” and “imminent.”) My alert system gets to “code red” when I’m out of kibble!

Potential risks might result:

  • A branch of al-Qaida in Yemen or some other disconnected country might be the source of the next attack.
  • The next threat might come from a lone individual who sympathizes with al-Qaida, such as occurred with the Fort Hood shooter, who some contend was linked to terrorist groups.
  • Terrorist cells in North Africa have either loose or no affiliation with al-Qaida and have many connections to ethnic groups in the United States.
  • A broader risk is a decreased emphasis on funding for anti-terrorism training due to the perception of the “War on Terror” coming to an end.
  • As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many experts caution of an interest in terror groups to commemorate the sad day with new attacks.
    • U.S. officials have confirmed that documents retrieved from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan show that al Qaeda was in the early planning stages for an attack on U.S. railroads to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
    • According to Homeland Security, the FBI has advised local officials to be on the lookout for clips or spike missing from train tracks, packages left near the tracks, and/or any other indications that a train could be at risk.

But the truth is that regardless of recent developments, it is always advisable to prepare for the threat of terrorism. Domestic terrorism is possible. This is not a time for complacency. Property owners, tenants/employers and everyone should continue to follow best practices.

How can you remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism?

  • Set protocols for monitoring any incoming delivery packages and personnel.
  • Establish rules for suspicious items that are left at or near your facility.
  • Pay attention to the Department of Homeland Security’s threat monitoring.
  • For high-traffic and value buildings, consider installing metal detectors at each entrance. I’ve heard that you need a doctor’s note if you have a metal plate in your noggin!
  • Develop a check-system to verify visitors with tenants. A good watchdog might be just the ticket!
  • Double check current evacuation procedures make sense if a terrorist attack occurs.
  • Install security cameras, which can capture individuals who could be “casing” your building.
  • Read information about altering your HVAC systems to protect from possible chemical, biological, or radiological attacks.
  • Terrorists increasing usage of online media for propaganda also increase the risks of cyber terrorism attacks that could strike at key facilities. If you operate a secure facility that handles sensitive materials, be sure to catalog and report any suspicious hacking attempts.
  • Flag individuals who ask for detailed information about your building or the surrounding areas. Scrutinize any requests for blueprints or other schematics. Just sayin’.

The best way to manage the risks of terrorism is similar to planning for natural disasters. It demands practicing common sense and planning ahead to make a facility a less desirable target. While the death of al-Qaida’s leader will hopefully destroy the terror network, threats remain that require attention.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Influenza, Swine Flu, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The DHS Will Use New Technology to Announce Threats

New Sample DHS Alert System Snapshot
The Dept of Homeland Security will use social media to announce two tiers of alerts.

Very shortly, news network viewers and their canine companions will no longer find out about updates via color-coded threat levels from the Department of Homeland Security. The current threat-level chart will be replaced by a two-level threat system known as the National Terrorism Advisory System. The first threat level will be coined “elevated,” and would warn about a credible threat, but not list possible targets. (As far as I know, the Midnight Bark will remain unchanged.)

A distinct difference to the previous system is that the two-level system will provide a start and end date for the threat. The second level will be “imminent” when law enforcement officers working with DHS determine a credible threat will very likely be attempted against certain targets. This level of alert would continue for not more than seven days, but could be extended. DHS will also incorporate social media alerts into the two-level system, recognizing the reach and the importance of such networks in the fast sharing of information.

First put into use in March 2002, the current system (officially known as the Homeland Security Advisory System), was established in response to the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. The system initially came under frequent criticisms, with many individuals claiming the threat level was often raised for political motives to incite citizen unrest. Others claimed the threat level did not move sufficiently to recognize actual threats, and was often held at an elevated status level.

According to DHS, the risk of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil remains, and citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior. Loud barking is another option for alerting folks about potential threats. Law enforcement is continually training for possible attacks, even participating in testing exercises to measure readiness.

This type of readiness was evident in the thwarted New York’s Time Square bombing attempt in 2009, where a quick-thinking street vendor alerted authorities to a smoking van. The terror alert system reminds citizens about the threat of terrorism and encourages common sense as well as a broader sense of civic responsibility.

Government officials announced that terror alerts and information about threats will be distributed via two primary social networks when deemed appropriate, Twitter and Facebook. The department’s Twitter alerts page is @ntasalerts. The Department of Homeland Security’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/HomelandSecurity. In some cases, distribution of specifics regarding an alert could jeopardize ongoing investigations. In such cases, information about terror threats might not reach the public until after the alleged terrorists are captured and the threat has been mitigated. If you haven’t yet found me on Twitter, be sure to check out my tweets @rjthefiredog.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Uncategorized

If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck…retrieve!

If something doesn't look right, it probably isn't right.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, more attempted terrorist attacks against the U.S. have occurred in the past nine months than in any previous one-year period.

In our first two posts about terrorism-related issues, we covered the basics about dealing with the risks of terrorism and setting up surveillance networks. Our post today explores how individual tenants, building management and staff, and maybe even your pet can work together to identify suspicious activity.

As we often stress in our posts, safety begins with the individual. It is, ultimately, a matter of personal responsibility. For instance, for my canine friends, it’s not cool to pull your owner down the sidewalk while you chase a squirrel. The RJ Westmore, Inc. Training System emphasizes that everyone plays key roles in not only their own safety but also in ensuring the safety of those around them.

With the recent attempted bombing in Times Square, it was a T-shirt vendor who first identified and reported someone quickly walking away from a suspicious vehicle. According to the Department of Homeland Security, with more potential terrorists being carried out by Western operatives who are either U.S. citizens or here on visas, it is difficult for law enforcement to identify terrorist planning or “chatter.” Law enforcement officials are not omnipotent They need community involvement to help recognize red flags and suspicious behavior patterns. In my book, any gathering of two or more tabbies is suspicious activity; you never know what they could be scheming about!

Here are some examples of efforts that major metropolitan areas are using to engage the community in terrorism prevention:

  • New York City’s Operation Nexus is a nationwide network of more than 25,000 businesses that agree to share information about suspicious activity. Individuals at participating businesses agree to report the purchasing of materials or use of training that might indicate terrorist activity.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department’s iWatchLA is a community awareness program that encourages residents to identify behaviors that might indicate terrorist plotting:
    • Worrisome chemical smells or fumes located around important structures
    • Individuals asking for sensitive information such as VIP travel plans or building blueprints
    • Attempts to purchase potentially explosive material components, absent of proper certification or licensure
    • It’s not on their official list, but us pooches can be great alarm systems. Listen to us when we are barking like crazy!

What can you do as a building owner or manager?

  • Utilize RJ Westmore’s online training including its “resources” and “links” which offer a wealth of information about terrorism and dozens of other topics.
  • Encourage your tenants to learn the basics of identifying suspicious behavior (using community watch and DHS resources). Make sure they don’t hesitate when something doesn’t “look right.”
  • Set up protocols for tracking and reporting tenant or visitor alerts.. Any incident should be recorded and promptly shared with law enforcement. Sharing information is crucial to preventing future attacks.
  • Consider installing comfortable cedar chip-filled beds in sunny spots with accessible fresh water and a rawhide bar. Wait….what was I talking about again?
  • Consider the benefits of Universal Services of America, an RJ Westmore, Inc. strategic partner, who helps some of our clients with services including on-site and remote security systems as well as guards.

Visit us next week for the final post in our series about terrorism prevention. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Uncategorized
Robot black background
PS-Prep will help the private sector BE SAFE.

Disaster preparedness is a main priority for any fire dog, or anyone else who cares about being safe. At the fire station, we get plenty of calls to assist in horrible disasters which might have been prevented with simple routine safety checks and adjustments

I’ve seen entire buildings condemned, and employees lose their jobs, all due to faulty wiring. Private and publically held companies, such as hospitals, universities, stadiums, non-profit organizations, and others that fail to establish and maintain safety standards face disasters.

Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has recently announced a new program called PS-Prep which introduces safety standards for these types of businesses as well as non-profit organizations. With PS-Prep, a third-party assessor evaluates organizations to determine preparedness. He or she checks out the current safety provisions and then certifies the company if it’s up to par.

With certification comes a certain degree of confidence that employers and employees have taken necessary steps to eliminate potential disasters. This is a good thing, because it means more tragedies can be averted.

With PS-Prep, everybody wins, because the fewer the number of dismembered bodies my crew and I have to drag out of a terrorist-targeted pile of rubble, the better. I’m kidding, of course. But the reality is that preparation and prevention are the best ways to handle any emergency.

For more tips on how to be prepared so you can be safe in the event of an emergency, visit RJWestmore, Inc. Another helpful resource is provided by the National Fire Protection Association, which is making their standards available at no cost. Regardless of whether your company decides to take advantage of the new PS-Prep Program, it’s important that you do whatever it takes to BE SAFE!