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As with the facility risk assessment, facility preparedness information is required for “at risk” facilities identified in the community risk assessment. According to the standard, facility preparedness information consists of the following:
• Number of occupants
• The ability of occupants to evacuate, relocate, or “secure-in-place.” (Note that NFPA 3000 uses the term “secure-in-place” rather than the widely used term “shelter-in-place.” The two terms mean the same thing.)
• Internal staff response and assistance to include threat recognition and threat reaction procedures and training
• Notification of occupants
• Number, location, and contents of bleeding control kits
• Identification of lockable spaces and rooms as well as the locations of exit doors that lead directly to the outside or to a stairwell
• Procedures for locking doors from inside of the shelter-in-place area. Locking needs to be done in accordance with NFPA 101, which requires mandates that an egress door can be opened from the secure side with a single action. Deadbolts cannot be used unless they are able to be opened with a single turn of a handle.
• Procedures for unlocking doors from outside the shelter-in-place area
• Emergency action plan, including an assessment to support preparedness, protective actions, and communications; a communications plan; alert and warning plans; and personal emergency preparedness training for protective and medical actions
The standard also requires the facility response plan to consider the mobility of occupants.
Facility managers responsible for “at risk” facilities must also conduct annual exercises. Presumably these may be tabletop exercises, drills, functional exercises, and/or full-scale exercises.
The frequency, severity, and long-term community impacts of ASHER incidents have prompted NFPA to develop and introduce this standard. The standard has been released on a provisional and voluntary basis and is meant to be administered at the community level. Facilities considered “at risk” have to provide the administrators of the program with a facility risk assessment and facility preparedness information. “At risk” facilities must also conduct ASHER exercises on an annual basis.
Most high-risk facilities should have the requested information readily available for the administering authority, and already be conducting annual exercises. Therefore, the standard should have minimal impact on the facility community. It may be practical and sustainable to have the ASHER risk assessment and facility preparedness data as part of an existing plan that is updated annually, such as an emergency response plan, thus eliminating the need to maintain a separate plan.
The recommendations for conducting a risk assessment and having good emergency response plans are practical for all facilities, even ones not considered high-risk. Best practice is to have an all-hazards plan as opposed to one that is specific to active shooter incidents.
Communities around the country that implement the elements of the standard will be better prepared to deter, detect, respond to and recover from incidents involving active shooters and other hostile events. The standard will likely save lives and give facility managers at high-risk facilities an opportunity to participate in a process that will ultimately make their communities safer.
Daniel O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the founder and CEO of Advanced Data Risk Management (ADRM), a risk management and security engineering company.
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