GREENVILLE — “The worst active shooter event has not happened yet,” said Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, of the Darke County Sheriff’s Office, during a presentation titled, Workplace Safety/Security and Active Shooter.
It was a chilling reminder that society has changed and with it, an increase in violence for the attendees of the monthly Darke County Safety Council Meeting held at the Brethren Retirement Community last week.
The presentation was an overview of workplace violence, how to be prepared, and what measures can be taken towards prevention. A topic one cannot dismiss or assume does not happen here because it already has happened in Darke County. Only a few years ago, there was an active shooter event at a Versailles manufacturing facility.
“It was domestic-related,” said Whittaker, where the individual did fire the weapon several times, but no one was hurt. However, the individual managed to kidnap their spouse and remove them from the facility.
While the topic is broad, with each business having differing challenges compared to the next, Whittaker stated, “Unfortunately, we should all have a plan. You never know when or where this could happen to you.”
“There’s no reason that each of you, personally, can’t take this information and apply it to yourself, in your personal life or your family,” continued Whittaker.
First, a definition of an active threat, according to information provided by Whittaker, is any incident that creates an immediate threat or presents an imminent danger to a community or specific location.
Next, the definition of an active shooter which is an individual engaged in attempting to kill people in a confined space or populated area. Active shooters typically use firearms and have no pattern to their selection of victims.
The statistics are jarring. Homicide is the fourth leading cause of workplace death, whether it is healthcare, retail, manufacturing, or government.
In health care, the individual may be drug-seeking, mentally ill, or a disgruntled patient or family member, whereas retail tends to be a robbery. Manufacturing is domestic such as a workplace romance gone bad while government, from courts to public health, deal with anti-government or an anti-enforcement sentiment.
Women are typically victims of relatives or a domestic partner, while males tend to be victims of robberies.
In 2017, out of 5,147 fatal work injuries, 458 were a homicide.
What can one do to prepare for an active shooter event?
What makes for an active shooter? Whittaker shared the reasons may be unknown. It could be their mental health, but no one profile or demographic fits. However, there was one commonality in that the person was tired of being, in their perception, the “victim.” If you see something, say something.
Whittaker had shared in a previous Safety Committee meeting a story showcasing a lack of preparation wherein an employee shot and killed two co-workers. The individual had been fired earlier that day but continued to roam the premises.
Even though employees questioned the former employee’s presence, no one took action, no one said anything, to deadly results.
Make a plan
Every business should have an active threat plan and train employees and staff. It can mean the difference between life or death, and no one policy, protocol, or algorithm necessarily fits. Speak with similar businesses that already have a plan in place.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires an employer to have an active shooter response plan and training in place. Due to an increase in healthcare-related incidents, OSHA has guidelines in place specific to that area, said Whittaker.
During an event
Individuals must be willing to think and must be willing to survive. The procedure is simple and comes down to run, hide, or fight. The latter is a last resort, said Whittaker, and once implemented must be seen through to the end. Negotiation does not typically work.
Whittaker has been in public safety since 1986 and has worked at the Darke County Sheriff’s Officer for 25 years. Those interested in Workplace Safety/Security and Active Shooter may contact the DCSO at 937/548-3399.
The Darke County Safety Council will next meet at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24. The presentation will be “Your rights and responsibilities when OSHA knocks on your door.” The council meets in the Brick Room at the Brethren Retirement Community, 750 Chestnut St., Greenville.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.