Handling Emergency Plans

It irritates, sickens, and angers me to no end that I have to write about this topic at all. However, as the shooting this week in Florida has shown, the country of my birth continues to be plagued by evil fools willing to use guns to kill innocent people in massive numbers. What can you as a technical communicator do?

Recognize warning signs of impending violence and be willing to report them before an incident happens

This should be common sense, but many of these incidents have warning signs that are ignored, overlooked, or not reported for fear of…what? Being judgmental? Getting involved? Attacked first? I have no idea. However, here are some links below to consider as a preventative measure:

From the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)…

From the American Psychological Association (APA)…

From the American Counseling Association

From the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)…

From American Express (AMEX)…

From the Huffington Post

From the Crisis Consultant Group

From Forbes Magazine…

From CNN

From Wright State University

You get the hint. There is information out there. Seriously, take some action and encourage your kids to do so, anonymously, if necessary, but immediately, to prevent these types of scenes from polluting our society and collective conscience. As the saying goes here now, “If you see something, say something.”

Ensure the safety of your home and workplace

A few years ago, when I was still in Huntsville, some evil jerk shot up an African-American church in South Carolina. It occurred to my place of worship to help the church’s preschool develop a “live shooter” emergency plan just in case. I helped research a plan and it got shared with the staff. Our shared Deity willing, it will never have to be used.

This really boils down to having a plan in the event someone evil attempts to kill a lot of people near you. Maybe your plan involves run-hide-fight. Maybe your plan involves shooting back. The important things you can do include:

  • Find out if a plan already exists and, if so, review it and recommend changes if possible.
  • If there isn’t a plan, volunteer to write one and then base it on the recommendations of the Department of Homeland Security and your local law enforcement agencies.
  • Share the plan with family members and coworkers.

Let your voice be heard

If you want to become an advocate in the national debate on how to stop these incidents from happening, by all means, do so. Register to vote and then campaign and vote for people who back your stance. Maybe apply your technical writing/research skills in (as always) an ethical manner with an eye toward feasible solutions that protect lives and liberties. Best of luck. It won’t be a brief or easy fight in either of the two primary policy directions.

For what it’s worth, this blog was suggested by a friend who happens to be strongly pro-gun control. I am not, but nor am I firearms owner or enthusiast. Personally I’m a pacifist. It disturbs me a great deal that human beings enforce their will over each other through the use of force, however applied, but that is reality. So while these events remain infrequent, they recur too awfully, frustratingly, and too damned infuriatingly frequently. I could lay down markers for moral code failures or too much media exposure for the killers, but those don’t fit into the typical binary screamfest we hear every time something like a mass shooting happens.

So until human nature radically changes or we find some way of keeping tools of rapid violence out of the hands of the truly homicidal, the best you can do is to be alert, have a plan, do your darnedest to act on that plan…and then hope you never need to use that plan in the first place.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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