During the planning process for a recent active shooter exercise I was asked a question by a member a key stakeholder, ‘Do we really need to do this?’ We had a lot of discussion around the safety of hospitals and the chance of being shot in a hospital is extremely low. While the probability is low of an active shooter the skills taught in preparation and demonstration of dedication to safety is of paramount importance for employers.

Too often we find ourselves, especially in health care, accepting workplace violence as a risk of the job. So we under identify and subsequently under respond to the incidents. This drives down employee engagement, increases chronic stress issues, increases turnover, and is just wrong. Data presented by ENA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics around Workplace Violence is sobering and is bringing it to the forefront of discussion in the workplace.

There have been several reports that identify barriers in combating workplace violence. One barrier is an aversion to declaring a “crisis” or activating the crisis response plan. Organizational Leaders, with emphasis on Human Resources, should increase their level of comfort of activating a crisis response plan.  A conscious effort should be made to overcome the negative connotation with a “response.” This should be part of establishing buy-in around running an emergency management program or developing a crisis response plan.

Crisis Managers and Emergency Managers should be working with Leadership to establish an increased level of comfort with a crisis response. There also needs to be a continued emphasis on an appropriately scaled response and not over responding, which could amplify the incident.

Jody Moore is a Principal Member of Crisis Focus, LLC a full service crisis management and emergency planning firm. Follow him on Twitter.