The article by the Guardian describes a death and multiple injuries incurred by students at a Kenyan university by JUMPING FROM THE BUILDING when they thought they heard an active shooter. That’s exactly what they heard – but it was an exercise. And no one told them. This flat out pisses me off.
Let me emphasize a bit here… THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.
When doing any kind of exercise in or near a public area you MUST have a media and public notification on your to-do list. In fact, have it on your list multiple times. Why? Because people don’t always pay attention or remember. Tell them a month before, then a week before, then two days before, the day before, and all day during the exercise.
Some people may think this is overkill, but people get scared when they hear gunshots, helicopters, and yelling; and even more so when they see people in hazmat suites and tactical gear. When people get scared, they do things we may not expect – including endangering their own lives. Be sure to detail in the media releases what people may see and hear, where it will be, and when it will be. Give a phone number where they can call with questions. Consider all your audiences and ensure they are being reached – don’t just rely on the media to do this for you. Ensure that signage is out before and during the exercise identifying the area as an active exercise. After the exercise, take advantage of the exposure to tell the public what you have learned. Give them confidence in your capabilities and professionalism.
© 2015 – Timothy Riecker