NOTE: these posts will focus primarily on those that are blind, because that is my experience, However, the material applies to everyone who is disabled or handicapped. I will use the initials of B/VI to indicate blind or visually impaired. This information is absolutely vital for any employer/manager who wishes to keep their employees safe from harm…even if they are a client employee, such as a contracted security company.
Now we come to the actual items that disabled employees, and their employers, need to do to safeguard the lives of their most vulnerable employees. You already know of my post earlier, on the Fight, run, or hide method to combat active shooters. But specifically, here are some suggestions for those who are disabled.
If you’re at a desk, and the panels go all the way to the ground, that would get you out of sight. If there is a barrier that you can put between you and the shooter, use it. Whatever the B/VI person does, I wouldn’t recommend a strategy which involves running away, not because we can’t, but rather using a cane or a dog, we make an attractive target.
The best idea for someone who is B/VI in an active shooter is to simply hide, unless circumstances require otherwise. If the disabled individual wishes to evacuate the facility, with assistance for speed sakes, they must be willing to abandon their cane and unleash their guide dog, who will normally follow them practically anywhere. This will allow them to quickly move forward in getting out of the line of fire.
For those who are in a wheelchair and can’t move fast due to other mobility issues, then ensuring that a predetermined place for them to hide is imperative. Their hidey hole, by necessity, be close by and the same parameters as with non-disabled employees…otherwise everything stays the exact same. If they are left at their work stations, then they become an inviting target and literally sitting ducks waiting for the kill shot…does anyone want a disabled co-worker to endure that?
As for the fight method, again, that is entirely up to the employee. As I stated in the previous post, if you can fight back and you are not frozen or scared stiff by the prospect…then do it. Throwing items at the shooter is the best option for any disabled employee. Coffee cups (as long as they are heavy ceramic), staplers, phones, or similar…as long as they are heavy and cause someone to be distracted from someone else.
To reiterate my words from the earlier post:
“I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that this is the best course of action. Fight the intruder first before they can cause further mayhem. It has been overwhelmingly, through innumerable scenarios – real life and training, proven that if you attack the perpetrator, remember they may not all have a firearm; you can overwhelm and stop them. And if you don’t stop them, you will slow them down enough to potentially allow your co-workers to escape before harm can come to them…
The next obvious question is how do you fight or confront them? For some people this will never be easy. Some people are understandably reluctant to face a weapon.”
The key point in that? If you can, then do it. If you can’t, then don’t.
Another B/VI person suggested using a code word to alert others to what was going on: “One thing I attempted to institute in our office, that, thankfully, we never had to employ is a code phrase. The people in the office said nothing had ever happened before, so couldn’t see a reason why all this hyper-vigilance. I then said, I hoped their observations would always be correct, that we would never have to employ a code phrase.”
Instituting a code phrase is a good option for any office, whether disabled employees are there or not. The phrase needs to be something that will not alert the predator that something is amiss, but also something that is not used in regular conversation…ever. My friend above said they chose the phrase “code 77”. That would certainly never be used in regular conversation and the predator more than likely wouldn’t know it either.
These few posts have attempted, and I hope successfully, inform you of how-to assist disabled employees in the event of an active shooter scenario or other such disaster. Will they be effective? I don’t know, simply because I don’t know your facility or organization.
I do know of organizations that performed above and beyond their intelligence level during a crisis. I also know several places, where the employees were highly intelligent and fell apart into pieces at a disaster and couldn’t function adequately.
Please keep in mind, with myself being blind, I can assist your organization with their active shooter plans for all employees, disabled and otherwise.
Robert D. Sollars helps organizations to safeguard the lives of their employees and students and lessen their risk of violence, as well as with other security–related issues, using time–tested and proven ideas.
He is the author of three books on preventing violence in both schools and businesses, all available on Amazon.
His book–related website, with full information on his most recent book, Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention, is: http://www.dldbooks.com/robertdsollars/
I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear