News from the Chicago Chapter

IREM 2019 Global Summit Perspective: Sound Advice on Emergency Preparedness for Active Shooters

Posted by [email protected] on 10/22/2019 12:59 pm  




By Colleen Needham, CPM®, CAM, ARM®
Draper and Kramer, Incorporated
IREM Chicago 2019 Secretary


The week of September 24, I had the opportunity to participate in the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) 2019 Global Summit held in San Francisco, California.   The venue was located in the Union Square area of San Francisco,  known for its strong history and ties to the Civil War and the Spanish American War.  Another historic aspect of Union Square that has impacted American history is the cable car network, which is recognized worldwide.  This location was significant in binding one more historic moment to its history, which was the induction of the first IREM International President, Cheryl Gray, CPM®, of Canada.

As I travelled through the week attending seminars, luncheons, networking events and the Governing Council meeting for the first time, one seminar really resonated with me.   The reason centers on the mass gun violence plaguing our communities.  We grew up participating in fire drills and drills to protect ourselves from tornados; now we have to run drills and have a safety plan to prepare for active shooters.

I sat in a large room listening to highly trained individuals -- Tony Casper and Dustin Randall -- speak about how to prepare for one of the scariest potential events of your life.   They were factual, straightforward and creative on how they instructed the audience to watch for signs that could lead to a potential incident.  There were key points made that I want to share with you.  These may appear obvious when pointed out, and most of us would just simply ignore these on a daily basis.

Key Points: Be Aware, Watch for Signs

  • Someone suddenly showing in interest in guns, reading gun magazines, conducting internet research on guns
  • Researching tactical maneuvers or taking weapons training
  • Becoming disconnected from others
  • Acting out or out of the norm
  • Posting their intentions on social media

What does a person deciding to make this decision look for or want in a target base?

  • Vulnerability
  • High kill success rate, or the mindset to kill as many as possible before authorities arrive
  • Twenty percent are motivated and inspired by prior shooter events and may Idolize those individuals

Tony and Dustin stated that most people justify noises they hear outside as being a car backfiring, fireworks or something else. DO NOT deny hearing gunshots.  Gunshots are distinctive. A gun has a rhythmic sound because the gun has to chamber a bullet each time it fires. There is a timing between each shot when a gun is fired in repetition.  Many describe it as a pop or snap sound, like a whip being cracked; but this can be distorted based on distance and if the gun is shot outside or inside a building.  Weighing on side of caution is always best. 

When you recognize a shot has been fired in close to proximity, there are actions you must initiate to take care of yourself and others if you are in a crowd, place of work or in your own home.

  • Calm yourself
  • Combat heavy breathing – similar to how you would breath in a yoga exercise
  • Shift your emotions – think of survival
  • Mental scripting – make a plan
  • Relax as much as you can – look around and make a call on what to do

The Goal is to – Get Out – Barricade – Take Action

“Your body can’t go where your mind has never been, “ was advice shared. Know your surroundings and be familiar with where you are at, even if going to a mall.  Know where the closet exit is located.  What people should not do is hide and hope.  If you can’t find a way out of a building or room, then find a way to barricade all the ways into that room.  Use everything and anything you can find.  Shooters generally will not work to get into a room because it defeats their goal of mass kills.  Once you barricade a room, then find a way to exit that room.  An exit can be a window, an air vent or breaking through drywall into another room.   Think of every possible solution; the goal is to get out and survive.   When you’re safe, call 911 or have someone else call 911 when you are in action mode.  On average, it takes the police department three minutes to respond and arrive at a location during an active shooter event.

If you are not able to escape or barricade a room or space, then take another course of action.   When a group is together, it’s more effective to confront the attacker.  It is possible someone will get shot; but it could be the only shot the attacker is able to get off.  Distraction is a great counter measure. This can be done by throwing objects at the gunman while others are able to subdue the shooter.  Fifty percent of active shooter events end before law enforcement arrive; 24 percent end in suicide and 11 percent of the time, the attacker leaves. In 35 percent of shooting incidents, the attacker just stops and in 15 percent citizens stop the shooter.

It’s important that an active shooter plan is added to every emergency plan. Go through drills a few times a year and stay observant and vigilant.  Most of all STAY SAFE!