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Protecting Your Workplace Against Active Shooters

Active shooting incidents are increasing at an alarming rate. How will you protect your workers?

He was quiet, such a nice guy. He kept to himself. He didn’t socialize much. Does that sound familiar?

Neighbors, coworkers, friends of active shooting perpetrators typically describe the person to the media as a nice person in the days following a mass casualty incident. They typically don’t recognize the behaviors and actions of a person planning an act of workplace violence.

“The average worker does not snap overnight – that’s Hollywood,” says Al Shenouda, a former law enforcement tactical commander and security advisor with the Department of Homeland Security and speaker at EHS Today’s 2018 Safety Leadership Conference.

Workplace violence is more likely to occur in places without policies or managers who understand what types of behaviors lead to an event. So, what can a safety professional do to effectively train workers to spot acts of incivility, discontent and changes in a person they see on a daily basis?

Early Recognition

Having an “it’ll never happen to me” mentality is a surefire way to be unprepared when an act of workplace violence occurs, Shenouda says.

Shenouda, along with other subject matter experts, provides organizations with insights and tactics on preventing and surviving an active shooter situation.

The value of early recognition, or seeing changes in a worker and addressing them, is the first step to prevention.

“Establish an early warning system,” says Gino Soave, Niles Industrial Coatings’ corporate safety director and speaker at EHS Today’s 2018 Safety Leadership Conference. “No threat is too small. Words always precede actions.”

Changes in behavior should be reported to a supervisor. For example, introverted workers that begin to voice their opinions in an aggressive manner, or an employee that is more extroverted and seem withdrawn could potentially plan to retaliate.

Soave notes 12 particular behaviors that could lead to an act of workplace violence:

      1. Temper tantrums
      2. Excessive absenteeism
      3. Decrease in productivity
      4. Testing limits
      5. Disrespect for authority
      6. Verbalizes negative action/harm
      7. Sabotage/theft
      8. Numbers and intensity of arguments rise
      9. Intense anger
     10. Social withdrawal
     11. Suicidal threats
     12. Property destruction

When it comes down to it, every employee should have some type of basic awareness training, Shenouda says.

Company policy for escalating behaviors should reiterate a no-tolerance policy. If a threat or incivility occurs, a worker should immediately alert a direct supervisor. The supervisor should report the behavior to human resources or safety representative, who will then take the appropriate steps to address the individual.

“Most workers don’t understand the ins and outs of a prevention program,” Shenouda says. “You want to save lives? Do basic awareness training. When things start getting unglued, what are you going to do?”


Respond and Save

The “hot potato” scenario often leads to an active shooting.

Employees who see changes in a fellow worker will begin avoiding the person, acting like nothing is happening, denies anything is wrong or brushes it off as something that is not part of their job responsibilities, Soave says.

“Has society trained us not to get involved if something doesn’t directly affect us?” he questions.

These changes and the subsequent lack of response are the catalysts for escalated behaviors. However, once an active shooting takes place, employees cannot sit back and every single one needs to be trained to respond accordingly.

“Most mass shooting incidents last three to five minutes,” Shenouda says.

“They’re looking for body count. More people are getting killed now by active shooters than in history.”

An effective basic training program should not only include preventing an incident, but it should also include situational awareness, survival training, and first aid techniques.

“In an emergency situation, paramedics and law enforcement are not the first responders,” Soave says. “Citizens are the first responders.”

Staying a step ahead of danger is key. Have workers identify spaces that provide a vantage point, rooms in which they could barricade themselves and tools and common items they can use as weapons. Because a person can succumb to an injury before law enforcement arrives, techniques such as improvising a tourniquet and stopping blood loss should be taught.

“The key is to try to get out in front of these acts,” Soave recommends. “Keep an open line of communication and keep training exciting. This falls under OSHA’s general duty clause. It’s no different than what you do every day.”



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Man dies twice, lives to tell his story

Dr. Herman Williams was living a charmed life. He was a young orthopedic surgeon with a beautiful wife and had just been accepted to one of the best practices in the country.

“I was literally on the verge of achieving all my dreams,” said Dr. Williams.

During a pick-up basketball game between rival surgeons, Dr. Williams started feeling dizzy and decided to take himself out of the game.

“I was just fortunate my wife was the scorekeeper. And she noticed that I had slumped over and had started foaming at the mouth, and I just died,” Dr. Williams explained.

No pulse – his friends performed CPR until the fire department arrived with a defibrillator. The electric jolt brought him back to life.

He made a full recovery. Although his condition made him change his career path to medical consulting.

Fast forward 25 years: Dr. Williams was at the airport in Nashville and it happens again.

“I see a gentleman sitting, I say ‘Hi, how are you? He says Hi, How are you?’ The last thing I remember is him saying ‘Are you alright?’ I start to fall, a woman catches me and eases me to the ground. And he immediately starts performing CPR,” Dr. Williams remembered.

Bill Mixon is his name. He was recovering from his own heart attack. The woman who caught Dr. Williams is Terrie Layne.

Two strangers who became two heroes.

“Once you make that decision, you are all in. It’s you and the outcome, regardless of the outcome, it’s courageous and heroic to make that decision. It really is hero work,” said Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams wrote a book about it called Clear. In it, he describes how these terrifying events gave him a purpose: to live a life of compassion and kindness, to try to connect with everyone he encounters. Because in the end, Dr. Williams says we all need each other, we just don’t know when.

The American Heart Association will tell you CPR, if administered immediately can double or triple a person’s chance for survival.


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City councilman steps in to save man using CPR during police promotion ceremony

A Jersey City councilman’s quick thinking helped save a man’s life after he collapsed at a police promotion ceremony. 

Councilman Daniel Rivera was in his usual spot in the City Hall chambers at the ceremony, with everyone in the room so happy, when suddenly the mood shifted.

“I hear the commotion and then I hear his daughter yell ‘Help, help’,” Rivera said. “That’s when I saw her dad keel over.”

John Macri, the father-in-law of Deputy Chief Michael Gajewski, had collapsed.

There was no pulse and he was not breathing. As a crowd gathered around, his daughter was administering chest compressions.

“Councilman Danny Rivera and my wife Dawn began to perform CPR on him,” Gajewski said. “She began the chest compressions, and Councilman Rivera began giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”

“We gave him two big mouth-to-mouth blows into the mouth, and she kept on with the compressions and then he came back, but he was out for like a minute, no pulse, zero,” Rivera said. “You could feel the tension in the air.”

Then suddenly there was a pulse, a breath and the color started to return to his face. It seemed like the whole room at once exhaled.

“It was amazing to see his finger move, and then once we saw his finger move, you can actually see the color coming in,” Rivera said. “Then he just popped up and that was great.”

“My father started to come around again, he got his color back and his eyes opened up and he began speaking again,” Gajewski said.

Macri was spending the night in the hospital and is doing great.

The councilman, once a Marine, always a Marine, is happy to have helped.

“I have to tell you from the bottom of my heart, my entire family is very grateful to him,” Gajewski said.


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CPR-certified ranch staff in Lakeland save life of teen who went into cardiac arrest

Bryelle Touchton was wrapping up her first horse riding lesson at Spring Lane Ranch when a staff member noticed the teen acting strangely.

“I could see her walking the horse back into the barn and when she got to the far end she looked like she was getting woozy and she looked like she fainted,” said Kim Wilkey, the site manager at the ranch.

The 15-year-old girl collapsed in front of her horse, Canela.

“She was blue. She was not reacting to anything,” said Alex Zapata, a trainer at Spring Lane Ranch.

Zapata and several of his colleagues jumped into action, administering CPR. They had no way to know Bryelle had gone into cardiac arrest.

“We evaluated her right away and could tell that she had no pulse and no respiration so we started CPR right away,” explained Wilkey.

“We started compressions, hard, hard, hard, and she reacted to it,” said Zapata.

It took almost 15 minutes for paramedics to arrive. Her mother, Beth Collins watched as Spring Lane Ranch employees kept her daughter alive.

“I’m really ever more so grateful for Spring Lane Ranch for everything that they have done for my daughter,” said Collins. “Had it not been for them, she wouldn’t be here today.”

The workers at the ranch were CPR-certified last August.

“You never know when you’re going to need it. Especially like that, a 15-year-old girl, you would never expect that,” said Zapata.

“Most people don’t survive the kind of episode that she had. We were all thrilled that we were able to be there for her,” said Wilkey.

Bryelle has been in the hospital for almost a week, but it will be a long road to recovery.

“She’s doing a lot better,” said Collins. “Especially over the past couple of days, she’s been out of the bed a couple of times. She understands everything.”

Collins says her daughter had no previous health scares. Doctors say she could need a pacemaker or defibrillator inserted into her heart.


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CPR – Do you know what to do?

CPR/First Aid – Corporate Classes

Anyone can learn CPR, are your employees trained to save a life? 

Green Guard offers weekly CPR classes for companies and groups, Green Guard’s CPRAED and First Aid training program will help employers meet OSHA and other federal and state regulatory requirements for training employees how to respond and care for medical emergencies at work.

This 2-year certification course conforms to the 2015 AHA Guidelines Update for CPR and ECC, and the 2015 AHA and ARC Guidelines Update for First Aid.

CPR classes are a great team building opportunity!


Call Now to speak with a Green Guard First Aid/CPR Specialist

Click Here to learn more about First Aid/CPR

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CPR – Are You CPR Ready To Save A Life?

CPR/First Aid – Corporate Classes

Anyone can learn CPR, are your employees trained to save a life? 

Green Guard offers weekly CPR classes for companies and groups, Green Guard’s CPRAED and First Aid training program will help employers meet OSHA and other federal and state regulatory requirements for training employees how to respond and care for medical emergencies at work.

This 2-year certification course conforms to the 2015 AHA Guidelines Update for CPR and ECC, and the 2015 AHA and ARC Guidelines Update for First Aid.

CPR classes are a great team building opportunity!


Call Now to speak with a Green Guard First Aid/CPR Specialist

Click Here to learn more about First Aid/CPR

Chat? Click on the “Live Chat” button

#cprreadytosavealife #cprteambuilding


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Forklift Collisions: Numbers Game Pedestrians Usually Lose

OSHA estimates there are 1.5 million lift operators in the United States.

That’s a lot of lifts and a lot of people around lifts. Pedestrians, lift operators, regulators, and employers agree; no one wants to see anyone get hurt. Forklifts and workers must remain apart. There are differing perspectives on who should have right of way (who yields to whom).

Forklifts are the second leading cause of machine-related death in the workplace. Struck-by and tip-over are the two leading causes of forklift-related fatalities.

Each year in the United States, on average, 100 die, 95,000 are injured, and 20,000 are seriously injured. An average of 60 lost workdays is incurred per incident (9x the average for all other injuries). Bad things happen when people and lifts attempt to share the same place in time. Regulators have an interest in preventing bad things.

Currently, more than half of all U.S. states are covered by Local Emphasis Programs that target industrial trucks and warehouse safety. Compliance officers will look more thoroughly at lift operations and may be more likely to visit industries known to operate lifts.

OSHA standards are still largely based on consensus standards that existed in the 1960s. The standard on industrial trucks was based on American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B56.1-1969 until the training portion of the OSHA standard was revised in 1998. The most current forklift standard is an ANSI/ATSDF Standard B56-2015.

Until recently, there wasn’t any language that clearly specified which party should have right-of-way. The 1969 forklift consensus standard that OSHA references just says to stay out of the way of ambulances, fire trucks, and other vehicles in emergency situations. The 2015 version of the ANSI standard, Section 5.3.2 provides the updated guidance to lift operators, “Yield the right of way to pedestrians and emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks.”

Pedestrians Lose in Collisions but Commonly Win in Court

Consensus standards, like ANSI standards, are more than suggestions. Consensus standards define the generally agreed upon standard of care which matters in a court of law. And they define hazards and precautions that should have been recognized which matters when “General Duty” catch-all clause citations are issued.

The message is and always has been the same: separate forklifts and pedestrians. People are vulnerable relative to industrial vehicles and people generally have the right of way in plant settings (just as they would on public streets). Things usually play out this way in jury trials where negligence lands on forklift operators more times than not.

In August of 2015, $15.2 million in relief was awarded to a worker whose foot was seriously injured when he was struck and run over by a forklift at a trade show in Chicago. The forklift operator worked for the show’s organizer who was breaking down booths; the injured party was representing an exhibitor at the show. OSHA citations totaling $91,000 were issued for failing to ensure driver training, failing to ensure safe clearances for forklift operations, failing to train drivers on specific issues related to pedestrians present, and other related issues. The prosecution called attention to the weight of the lift (58,000 pounds) and entered testimony from witnesses alleging that the driver did not keep a clear view of his path and did not maintain a proper lookout or spotter.

In this case and others, most of the responsibility falls on lift operators. Cases like this imply pedestrians have right of way. Cases like this also show that being right doesn’t always equate to staying safe.

Preventing Collisions Requires a Team Effort

There has been a lot of regulatory focus on forklift operators, yet frequency and severity remain relatively high in comparison to other industry exposures. Maybe regulators have been focused on the wrong thing? Maybe forklift operators are not solely to blame when workers are struck by forklifts?

There is no standard that speaks to the responsibility of pedestrians. Leading companies preach mutual responsibility or “safety is everyone’s responsibility” and educate about the severity of forklift incidents, lift and operator limitations, and how to establish intentions through eye contact and hand signals.

Beyond education of lift operators and pedestrians, the workplace and lifting equipment must be maintained in good operating condition. This includes ensuring adequate lighting, good floor conditions and housekeeping, marking and protecting walk aisles, and allocating aisle widths conducive to lift operation. Last but not least, employer management systems must ensure proper diagnosis and closure of incidents and issues voiced.

When pedestrians and lifts collide, everybody loses. It’s important that everyone knows what their responsibility is.

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Dunkin’ worker performs CPR on man who collapses at rest stop

A Dunkin’ employee helped save a man’s life Wednesday morning when she performed CPR on him after he collapsed at a Candia rest stop.

Surveillance video shows David Wood, 29, of Tennessee collapsing in front of his truck. Another trucker saw what happened and called 911.

A customer in the Dunkin’ drive-thru told employees what happened, and April Merchant, 24, ran outside.

She and two men pulled Wood out of the snow and onto a blanket. He had no pulse, and she performed CPR on him for several minutes before police arrived and took over.

Wood was taken to a hospital and is recovering.

Felicia Bertram, David Wood’s mother, flew up from Tennessee to be by her son’s side. She’s calling Merchant a hero.

“Even the doctors said if she had not done that, he would not be with us,” Bertram said.

A picture of Wood shared by his mother shows him smiling in his hospital bed. Merchant said she got to meet his mother, who gave her a big hug and thanked her for saving her son.

“She gave us our family,” Bertram said. “He has three beautiful children, a beautiful wife, and I don’t know what I would’ve done if I lost my son.”

But Merchant is reluctant to call herself a hero.

“I don’t know about all that,” she said. “It makes me anxious when people call me a hero, because I just don’t feel like I am.”

She said the CPR class she learned in college kicked in when she ran out to help Wood.

I took a class a long time ago, probably about six years ago,” she said. “I just remembered a lot from it. It was really helpful.”


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On-screen CPR: Heart-stopping drama doesn’t always reflect reality

When we watch movies and TV, we suspend belief that people can’t actually fly, zombies aren’t real and animals can’t talk.

So when CPR and other heroic measures to revive an unconscious victim pop up on the screen, should we react the same way?

“Movies very rarely get it right,” said Dr. Howie Mell, an emergency room physician in suburban Chicago who has also been a firefighter and paramedic. “They need to create drama and tell a story in a succinct and cohesive manner. That doesn’t always lend itself to an accurate portrayal.”

Many health professionals wish that were different. Several studies in recent years have compared on-screen cardiac crises to reality and lamented the results.

“In movies, defibrillation and cardiac arrest survival outcomes are often portrayed inaccurately, representing missed opportunities for public health education,” concluded a 2014 study in the journal Resuscitation.

A 2017 analysis of three popular American and British TV shows in Postgraduate Medical Journal drew similar conclusions, declaring, “Given the popularity of television medical dramas, the poor depiction may be significantly contributing to poor public CPR knowledge.”

Dr. Neil Shulman, associate professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta as well as an author and humorist, said popular culture can play a significant role in patient empowerment.

“It’s easier to attract people to something that will make them laugh or be entertained than to be educated,” said Shulman, whose novel “What? Dead … Again?” was made into the 1991 film “Doc Hollywood,” starring Michael J. Fox. “But if you can mix the two, you can have a giant impact.”

Mell, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, noted several areas where entertainment is falling short. Foremost, he said, is the common scene where “the ambulance comes roaring in and the CPR save occurs in the hospital, where the medical team is the center of the drama. That’s exceptionally rare.”

Most cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital, with survival often depending on a bystander starting CPR immediately and an emergency medical team arriving quickly. When that doesn’t happen, he said, the victim will probably die.

“In the best circumstances, maybe one or two out of 10 are going to survive,” Mell said. “But the public believes it’s nine out of 10. Hollywood changes the perception.”

The biggest factor in increasing the save rate, Mell said, is widespread CPR training. Starting CPR immediately can double or triple the odds of someone surviving a cardiac arrest.

“You are far better pushing on the chest of someone who doesn’t need it than standing around trying to decide if it’s necessary,” he said.

But do we learn that from watching heroic on-screen doctors?

“I think I have watched about as much film and probably more television than anybody in the country,” said Bob Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University in New York. “I’ve seen a lot of CPR, but I certainly don’t feel like what I learned qualified me to do it, any more than I’ve watched people deliver a baby hundreds of times and don’t know more than to say, ‘Breathe! One more push!’”

Thompson said the CPR message has been further muddled over the years by frequent scenes of comic awkwardness involving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

That message has changed. In 2015 the American Heart Association included Hands-Only CPR in its guidelines to allow those who don’t know how to give “rescue breaths,” or are uncomfortable doing it, the option to provide only chest compressions until qualified help arrives.

For children, both chest compressions and rescue breaths are still recommended.

“It’s extremely easy to provide CPR to an adult,” Mell said. “Place your hands in the middle of the chest and compress at the rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, which is roughly the beat of the song ‘Staying Alive.’ That’s it.”

Mell said that an AED, which delivers an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm after cardiac arrest, comes with simple instructions and helpful graphics so most untrained rescuers can use it successfully.

Defibrillators are key to Mell’s other dramatic pet peeve, the ubiquitous scene where actors in white coats apply paddles to a patient who has flat-lined and shock him or her back to life.

“That always makes me cringe,” he said. “It makes for good drama, but we don’t do that.”

The shock actually stops a heart that is twitching or not beating rhythmically in hopes of restoring a regular heartbeat.

“It’s kind of like a reset button,” he said. “But you don’t do control-alt-delete when the computer is off.”

Mell doesn’t expect Hollywood to dilute its entertainment value, but he does have a suggestion for popular shows like “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I would love to see a couple of episodes where they show an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and then at the end show a two-minute video about how to do CPR,” he said.

Thompson agreed, but has this advice in the meantime.

“Enjoy the show,” he said. “Then go take a CPR course.”


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Active Shooter – What You Should Know….

What to do if you find yourself in an active shooting event, how to recognize signs of potential violence around you, and what to expect after an active shooting takes place.  Remember during an active shooting to RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.

Be Informed

  • Sign up for an active shooter training.
  • If you see something, say something to an authority right away.
  • Sign up to receive local emergency alerts and register your work and personal contact information with any work sponsored alert system.
  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.

Make a Plan

  • Make a plan with your family, and ensure everyone knows what they would do, if confronted with an active shooter.
  • Look for the two nearest exits anywhere you go, and have an escape path in mind & identify places you could hide.
  • Understand the plans for individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs.


RUN and escape, if possible.

  • Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority.
  • Leave your belongings behind and get away.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Call 911 when you are safe, and describe shooter, location, and weapons.

HIDE, if escape is not possible.

  • Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet.
  • Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights.
  • Don’t hide in groups- spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter.
  • Try to communicate with police silently. Use text message or social media to tag your location, or put a sign in a window.
  • Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
  • Your hiding place should be out of the shooter’s view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.

FIGHT as an absolute last resort.

  • Commit to your actions and act as aggressively as possible against the shooter.
  • Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
  • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.
  • Throw items and improvise weapons to distract and disarm the shooter.


  • Keep hands visible and empty.
  • Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident, and they may have to pass injured along the way.
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, and/or handguns and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
  • Officers will shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.
  • Follow law enforcement instructions and evacuate in the direction they come from, unless otherwise instructed.
  • Take care of yourself first, and then you may be able to help the wounded before first responders arrive.
  • If the injured are in immediate danger, help get them to safety.
  • While you wait for first responder to arrive, provide first aid. Apply direct pressure to wounded areas and use tourniquets if you have been trained to do so.
  • Turn wounded people onto their sides if they are unconscious and keep them warm.
  • Consider seeking professional help for you and your family to cope with the long-term effects of the trauma.

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