Mass Shootings and Your Workplace: Knowing the Signs of an Imminent Threat and Understanding Mitigation Techniques to Protect Your Team: Risk and Insurance

Axiom Medical recently hosted a webinar titled “What Leads to Irrational Thinking and Mass Casualty Events” to discuss the cause of this violent behavior and how to protect ourselves and our places of harm. work.

As of this writing in mid-June, the number of mass shootings the United States has experienced in 2022 stands at 233. This number will surely increase before this article is edited and published.

Axiom Medical recently hosted a webinar titled “What Drives Irrational Thinking and Mass Casualty Events” to discuss the cause of this violent behavior and how to protect ourselves and our workplaces. .

“The standard definition of a mass shooting is an incident in which three or more people are fatally shot, including the perpetrator,” said Dr. Les Kertay, Senior Vice President, Behavioral Health, Axiom Medical.

“In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, we saw a significant drop in the level of violent crime. And the second year, we saw a pretty big increase. It is too early to tell if this is continuing. It is important to note that violent crime in general, even though we have experienced this bump, is at historically low levels. »

That said, mass casualty events are happening everywhere – from small towns to big cities, from schools to grocery stores, and it’s hard to predict when and where an event is going to happen.

Would better mental health treatment help?

The short answer to the above question is, quite simply, no. At the same time, it’s a complicated answer.

“One of the things that’s really important to know when we’re talking about violence in general, as well as mass shootings, is that there are really two different types of violence,” Kertay said.

“Most abuse is actually emotional, and we can, in fact, predict this type of abuse with some behavioral observations. We can see people start to deteriorate, and often that will lend itself to mental health treatment. »

On the other hand, predatory violence is usually well planned, carefully thought out, and usually telegraphed – not always, but usually the abuser lets people know that they are thinking about this type of violence.

“And usually predatory violence is not a mental health issue,” Kertay said.

“We mean ‘it’s sanity’ because imagining someone picking up guns and shooting multiple people is just too hard for most people to imagine themselves in that position. It’s so different what most people think that the violent person must be mentally ill. In fact, this type of violent person usually does not respond to treatment. We have to find ways to stop these people from doing what they do and to intervene in a different way.

Kertay pointed out that while it’s essential to have conversations about access to mental health care, when we start having this conversation about mass shootings, it only increases the stigma around mental health. .

“And in fact, people with mental disorders are not more likely to be violent in general. So I think it’s really, really important to remember that,” Kertay said.

Often Overlooked Warning Signs

If we go back to this distinction between predatory violence and emotional violence and think about emotional violence, we are generally looking for behavioral changes in people.

“We all know people who scream at every meeting. It’s probably not something that worries me. But when someone who’s usually quiet starts to explode, I’m careful,” Kertay said.

“On the other side, some signs include unexpected signs of isolation and people withdrawing from others. In both emotional abuse and predatory abuse, isolation is a big component. It’s really important to be there. to pay attention.

And when we’re talking about mass shootings, it’s much more common for people to have told someone – often these days on social media – that they intended.

As Kertay pointed out, these people may think, “I’ve been ostracized. I have been hurt by other people. I was isolated by other people. I’m mad. I will do something about it. I’m going to take action and take control, because I felt really out of control and hurt, so I’m going to take control.

“It’s actually quite rational to them, but it seems terribly irrational to us. But if you follow the logic, it’s actually quite logical. And the way to intervene, if there are warning signs, is to prevent the person from doing what is for them a rational act. Anytime someone says something about it, we have to take it seriously,” Kertay said.

“It doesn’t matter if it seems like a flippant comment. There is no offhand comment. We need to pay attention to these things and do all we can to intervene.

Active Shooter Survival Recommendations

When it comes to active shooter recommendations or any type of event that produced a mass event, you want to be aware of your surroundings. Anthony Merino, Provider Manager, Axiom Medical, and Sergeant First Class, United States Army (Retired), said it’s essential to be aware, be prepared, and if you see something, say something.

“Look for all the warning signs. If you are familiar with the area, understand what you think might present a potential problem. And always have an exit plan,” Merino said. “If you have the ability to get certifications like CPR, First Aid, or Stop the Bleed, do it.”

You also always want to have an emergency operation plan in place for your organization, whether it’s something similar to a fire drill or, like in hospitals, having different codes for different situations.

Merino advised companies to develop a plan and effectively train the right people based on that plan.

“You want to practice often and you want to try to make it as realistic as possible and take it as seriously as possible,” Merino said. “You want to be prepared and ready to act. You need to activate that muscle memory, so practice.

If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, the first thing to do is run and get away from the situation.

“If you hear gunshots or screams or anything, don’t freeze. Try to get away from the noise. Figure out where it’s coming from and stay away from it,” Merino said.

“Find the nearest way out, whether it’s a window or a door, and try to get out as quickly as possible. Also stay away from deadly funnel areas like crowded entrances and exits.

When you exit, go to your rally point. Keep your hands visible if you approach the police to show them that you have nothing in your hands.

“If you see the shooter or whoever did it, give the police a description of what’s going on, so they have information before they enter the building,” Merino said.

If you can’t run, then hide. When hiding, find a place to barricade yourself and lock the door. Turn off all the lights, get down, calm down. If you have to barricade yourself, you should stack the items against the door in a linear fashion.

“While you’re at it, you want to come up with a plan. Are there any weapons nearby or fire extinguishers, other things you can use to defend yourself? Merino said.

Change starts with us

As conversations continue about the mass shootings in the United States, companies are turning to their risks and the actions they can take.

In addition to the above, the Axiom Medical team emphasized the importance of remembering that the basic foundation of leadership is understanding those who work with you, below you, and beside you. Know them and understand them, be part of them, lead the way.

“If you don’t do that, then that’s the first problem here,” Kertay said.

“You have to know those around you. You need to be aware of those around you and have a pulse on what is going on. &

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Maura Keller is a published writer, editor and author with over 20 years of experience. She has written on business, design, marketing, healthcare and a host of other topics for dozens of regional and national publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

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