Active Shooter
Chris Grollnek, a domestic terrorism expert, laid out the risk of active shooters in today’s world and how bakeries can prevent and respond.

CHICAGO — An active shooter incident only takes 7 minutes to occur, and it takes 17 minutes on average for police to arrive on scene. So began Chris Grollnek’s keynote address on active shooter prevention at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2018 in Chicago. 

Mr. Grollnek, a leading policy adviser for domestic terrorism prevention, laid out the reality of today’s active shooter threat to the commercial baking industry and how bakeries could implement a plan to prevent and respond in case of an incident.

“Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t,” he said. “It just means someone hasn’t thought of it yet.” With active shooter incidents increasing 300% since 2015, Mr. Grollnek stressed the importance of having a plan and communicating it effectively to employees.

Commonly, people believe background checks are adequate prevention alone or that viewing a training video once will fully prepare employees to respond in case of an incident. Mr. Grollnek said this simply isn’t true.

“We practice fire drills,” he said. “You need to train over and over again, not just once.”

On the other end of the spectrum, extremely realistic training drills with firearms aren’t necessarily effective either. It’s not beneficial to give your employees post-traumatic stress disorder during a drill, he said.

The most effective thing bakers can do is, first, reorient their thinking of what to do in an emergency.

“If you take nothing else from this talk, take these two words: Get Out,” Mr. Grollnek said. The old training of “Duck and Cover” will result in more victims. “You wouldn’t duck and cover if there was a bomb in the building. Get up and get out.”

Beyond that, Mr. Grollnek laid out the four Ps of active shooter incidents: a place, people, a perpetrator and the police. Knowing what to look for in a perpetrator can help prevent an incident. Most active shooters act out of rage, are trying to correct a perceived wrong and often have a history of mental illness, Mr. Grollnek explained.

Bakers also can prepare their facilities and people to help keep people safe in case of an emergency. Preparing the facility could include an employee notification system, panic buttons, and areas of refuge and containment.

Preparing people includes mandatory training and practice for workplace violence or an active shooter prevention and response. Creating a threat assessment team can help with initiatives for ongoing refreshers of the active shooter plan. Without continuous training, people may not respond in the moment as they need to.

“People rise to the level of their training, not the occasion,” Mr. Grollnek said.

While he stressed we don’t need to live in fear, it is important to have a plan and communicate it effectively to employees.

“You need a plan because we live in a different world today,” Mr. Grellnek said. “Develop a plan and communicate your message in a way that it’s digestible and understandable to your employees.”