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Businesses must prep for active assailants

March 27, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

With random acts of violence continuing to make headlines, the public is urged to be prepared for most anything.

That applies to businesses, and last week, at the monthly North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Business Leaders Luncheon at the Smoke n' Pit, they learned it is a possibility they need to prepare for.

Kim Swanson, crime prevention practitioner for the Lee County Sheriff's Office, talked about these active assailant mass casualty events and what business owners can do.

Swanson said that preparation is fairly similar to that of a hurricane in that you plan, prepare and practice. But unlike a hurricane, which you can see coming, a mass shooting can happen in an eye blink.

"We are seeing an increase in things besides guns. We see edged weapons, vehicles ramming buildings and going into crowds," Swanson said.

No matter where you are, there always has to be a plan for action, Swanson said. See if there is an escape route, where you can hide and what is at your disposal if you have to fight.

Swanson said it wouldn't hurt to take a basic first-aid class to learn how to stop bleeding and administer basic first aid before first responders arrive. Be aware that law enforcement's first job is to stop the threat.

However, there is a fourth "P" to consider, and that is to protect.

Protection comes in the three ways and it requires you to make a life-or-death choice; run, hide or fight.

There are things to consider. If you run, be sure to leave your belongings, put your hands in the air, visualize your escape routes and avoid elevators or escalators.

If you hide, lock and barricade the doors, close and lock the windows and close the blinds, turn off the lights, silence cellphones, keep quiet, look for escape routes and possible weapons and find a way to contact first responders.

If you have to fight, see what you can use as a weapon and see if there are others who can join you. The goal is to disrupt or incapacitate the assailant through aggressive force if running and hiding is not an option.

Swanson said such acts have a ripple effect on businesses.

"If something happens, you have three victims, your brand, your customers and the employees. If people see it on TV or social media, people will think it's an unsafe business," Swanson said.



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