It’s Time to Prepare for the Unpredictable

ARTICLE | Oct 26, 2016

Preparation signals the way local governments approach the possibility of an unpredictable assailant and active shooter. In the November Public Management (PM) article “Shots Fired! Is Your Community Ready for an Active Shooter?,” authors Rod Gould and Jack Brown collaborate to write how communities can prepare first responders and residents for mass shootings.

They offer these actions that can be taken to preempt a lethal shooting or effectively cope when one occurs:


Make sure your organization’s general emergency preparedness plan, including equipment, is up-to-date. Get elected and management support to make it happen.

Equip and practice setting up an emergency operations center, which will be the nerve center that manages the local response to the possible active shooter and mass casualty incident.

Invest in emergency training. Understand systems like the National Incident Management System. Train on the system used so it becomes second nature.

Orient your disaster service workers and plan to meet their needs during an emergency. Most importantly, exercise your plans and check your equipment quarterly.

The manager must get the buy-in of the police, fire, and EMS chiefs to overcome institutional bias in emergency planning and response.

Provide the necessary equipment for first responders, including ballistic vests, helmets and eye wear, and assault rifles for law enforcement officers.

It is a leading practice to provide direct and simple training for residents and business people about what to do in the event of an active shooter.


Sharing concerns and warning signals can lead to interventions that end up saving lives. This takes a shared commitment on the part of organizations that don’t always work well together.

For more specific details on these actions, read the November issue of (PM) magazine.


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