One year ago this week, NFPA released NFPA 3000TM (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program – the world’s first guidance to help communities establish unified mass casualty preparedness, response, and recovery plans.
The impetus behind the development of this standard was the same disgust that we all felt this week when we heard that even more carnage had unfolded in California and North Carolina. Yet, with each horrifying incident, many still ask, “When will the insanity stop? What can we do to end these senseless events? Is anyone working on this? Am I becoming numb to these unforgivable incidents?”
The most important answer to the above is yes, people are working to effect change. BUT we can do much more to prepare cities, towns, campuses, and the many people it takes to safely manage these communities. In fact, we need to do a lot more. We need more people recognizing they can’t fight this fight alone. We need more people engaging with key stakeholders to define, communicate, and practice the steps outlined in NFPA 3000. We need more policymakers supporting legislation so that authorities have the manpower, money, and resources to make a difference. And we need the public to know what steps they can take to better protect themselves and loved ones.
Many organizations and outlets recognized this past year that they needed to learn more and share more about ASHER strategies. NFPA received requests from the media, industry influencers, first responders, school officials, emergency managers, members of Congress, state legislators, security professionals, facility managers, healthcare sources, and building security contacts who wanted to learn more about the standard. Engaging audiences via news coverage, webinars, podcast, trade articles, conference sessions, collaborations, and discussions was extremely important in year one of NFPA 3000. I can say with great confidence that this standard is serving as a springboard for different jurisdictions and authorities to holistically plan, react to, and survive man-made catastrophes.
One of the most memorable efforts this past year was a trio of events encouraged by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Three filled-to-capacity school active shooter symposiums were co-hosted by the state fire marshal and NFPA, just as the Baker administration was lobbying for $72 million in funding for hostile event and recovery resources. The symposiums brought together law enforcement, fire, EMS, school leaders, and policymakers to ensure that officials in different communities throughout the Commonwealth were proactively working together on ASHER strategies. Representatives from more than half of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns attended one of the symposiums. A similar free active shooter/hostile event program, with Michele Gay who lost her daughter during the Sandy Hook tragedy as the keynote, is being offered for school officials, responders, emergency management personnel, and facility professionals at the annual NFPA Conference & Expo® in San Antonio this June.
Over the last year, we have seen people who may have thought these incidents were unlikely taking proactive steps to prepare for potential events, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. NFPA 3000 can help with those preparedness methods because it sets the foundational minimums for developing or vetting a comprehensive holistic ASHER program. In ways large and small, individuals can also play a role in elevating safety. For example:
- A member of the public may want to contact local leaders to see if NFPA 3000 safety benchmarks are being considered and applied in their communities, or to determine how things work at their schools should an unwanted intruder show up.
- Adults and children can learn Stop the Bleed – so that they are empowered to administer critical care before a victim bleeds out. Run Hide Fight is also vital information for our world today; but it’s important to remember that this guidance is not necessarily reflective of the order of actions, but more about options based on the scenario.
- First responders can refer to the standard so that they can train on the competencies for their role or help conduct risk assessments at facilities and venues.
- Hospital staff can use the NFPA 3000 to coordinate with first responders and establish lines of communication that are regularly tested. The standard also provides a framework for recovery planning and victim identification planning - two critical elements that are often overlooked.
- School leaders and their building staff can use information in the standard’s 20 chapters to facilitate conversations with law enforcement, fire, EMS, building contacts, emergency managers, and elected officials.
The point is, it’s a whole new world. We have to keep asking questions, learning and teaching to make a difference. NFPA staff and the Technical Committee that developed NFPA 3000 has done just that since last May; and those insights are currently being incorporated into the next edition of the standard, as we speak. For example, additional considerations for the standard on the table include guidance on types of medical equipment and the contents of medical kits for occupancies, the public, and responders; more detailed planning and risk assessment parameters; increased recovery planning including an annex with informational references and resources; and additional ASHER training and exercise considerations.
NFPA will continue to bring attention to active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery. We hope that you will use the great videos, training, articles, fact sheets related to active shooter and hostile events that we have developed to help you engage audiences; that you will consider joining us next month in June at the free active shooter/hostile event program in Texas; and that you will submit your ideas for changes to www.nfpa.org/3000next.
We all play a role in keeping people, property, first responders, and ourselves safe. NFPA 3000 shows us that we can, and should, do more to protect against unwanted threats.