Be Prepared: Scary Realities ALL Nonprofits Must Confront

Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications News, Stories

I’m just going to start right off with: This is not a warm-fuzzy post. Or one of the lighthearted posts that I love to contribute to this blog. But it could be one of the most important posts–because it is without a doubt a helpful resource for any and all nonprofit leaders. Because our job, our calling here at NLC is to give you the resources, tools, and knowledge to operate your nonprofit successfully. And what could be more germane to supporting your mission than sharing knowledge of how to protect your staff, your team, your colleagues and yourself in the event of an Active Shooter situation?

This post will also serve to kickoff a new ongoing series I have planned for the blog and our classroom training: a Preparedness Series. You might also think of it as a very broad safety and business continuity series.

Of course we  have an online collection resources available to you if your nonprofit needs to write or revise a COOP and other preparedness tools. But here at NLC that’s not enough: We say, “If we teach it, we also model it.” So we’ve had a COOP–a continuity of operations plan–for years. And we have an annual review meeting to go over the plan and its processes in its entirety–and that’s also part of each new team member’s onboarding. And our COOP is a living, breathing document: We learned some valuable lessons last year during Hurricane Irma that we’ve since incorporated into our plan–and even our equipment purchases (think: laptops!).

I was recently several additional invaluable tools, resources, and facts that I’d love to share with you ASAP via this blog and in more depth in trainings that are TBD (to be developed). And you better believe this has already been a topic of discussion–and action–at an NLC team meeting.

I should stop here to say “thank you!” to The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command for inviting Team NLC to join their staff at an Active Shooter presentation. Thanks, also, to Tampa Police Department Officer Sean Mahabir who gave the presentation. As we like to say here, it was #timewellspent.

Here are a few of my takeaways (with my thoughts) from sitting in on that presentation:

  • Active Shooter incidents in the U.S. are on the rise and now average 2 incidents per week. (This is not a reality we as nonprofit pros can ignore.)
  • 93% of the shooters plan their actions in advance. (So we should plan and prepare our response in advance. Know what to do and PRACTICE it.)
  • 60% of their chosen locations to act are related to commerce, i.e. businesses; workplaces; theaters; shopping, concert and entertainment venues. (When out-and-about, remain vigilant. Being present is a safety technique as well as a “self-care” technique.)
  • 68% of active shooters have known someone at their chosen location. (“No one I know could ever do something like that” isn’t true–and it’s not safe thinking.)
  • Shooters don’t just “suddenly snap.” They broadcast many recognizable signals of potential violence. (We cold intervene. We MUST say something when we see something. It’s not being nosy; it’s protecting our friends, colleagues, families.)
  • 13% of active shootings were ended when unarmed citizens restrained the shooter. (Preparation is key. If an active shooter entered my workplace, this restaurant, my favorite store, knowing how to run, hide, or fight will help me–and others–survive.)

And while it’s unsettling, I can’t post this without sharing the Department of Homeland Security’s helpful video: Run. Hide. Fight. The numbers you’ll see on the screen have dramatically increased since the video’s release but the techniques demonstrated for how to act if you find yourself in active shooter situation are still rock-solid. Please, watch, learn, and share.

Near the bottom of this page, there is a transcript of the video, if you prefer not to watch it.

And here’s an additional video you might watch as well as additional online resources provided by DHS.

Team NLC sincerely hopes that none of our nonprofit leaders find themselves in an active shooter situation, but we will sleep better at night knowing that you are now more situationally aware and know what to do to protect yourselves and others.

Be safe.