This information is from our chat with Jeannie “The Pole Digger” during her webinar November…
*this post was a request from an IPIA member. If you have a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please email us.
Unfortunately, in the United States, active shooter situations have increased in recent years in a variety of locations including schools, houses of worship, private businesses, and public businesses.
While some shooters have specific connections with the places they attack, others seem to be random.
Should a pole studio, or other pole business with a store front, be concerned about active shooters? While we don’t like to sow paranoia, it can help to be prepared!
The rest of this resource post shares recommendations on how to prepare for any unwanted visitors in your business and includes information from the FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) specifically for how to deal with an active shooter situation.
Keep your business secure
Consider keeping the door to your studio locked and only open when students are entering and exiting the building. They could enter by buzzing in or using a video doorbell. If this isn’t possible, make sure to secure the entrance to your storefront when someone is not in the foyer or front desk area. If installing a solid door isn’t practical, consider putting large graphics on your doors and/or windows to discourage people from trying to look in. Many of these graphics will still allow light to come in.
Have a procedure for when employees or contractors leave your employ
If an employee, instructor, or anyone else who has access to your business no longer is employed by your business, make sure you have a procedure for changing access codes, passwords, keys, or key codes as necessary. Even if someone leaves on “good terms,” it is also good practice to keep your business as secure as possible by updating any information or areas that should be secured.
Create and enforce a policy of “participants only” during classes
Minimize the number of people that come to your studio by enforcing a “participants only” rule. Do not allow people to “hang out” in the waiting room or watch classes that they don’t participate in. This can be challenging for some people due to child care or transportation issues, however it may also be a way to promote safety.
Maintain open lines of communication
Try and keep lines of communication open with your customers and with your staff. Understand if there are any incidents that happen in class that you should be aware of, especially if students or customers are upset or seem disgruntled. If your staff is going through a tough time, they don’t need to (legally) tell you the details but may ask for someone to walk them to their car at night or request someone else be present with them in the studio. Keeping lines of communication open can help prevent incidents.
Develop skills and partnerships in advance
Learning CPR is a critical skill for a pole instructor. Consider also learning first aid or requiring your staff to learn first aid. Develop a relationship with local law enforcement so you know who to call if you have a problem.
Add all your policies, procedures, and contacts to your Emergency Action Plan.
If you have a situation at your studio
If an active shooter or other dangerous situation with another person happens at your studio, call for emergency support, usually 911 in the United States. Get out of the building or find a place to hide. Help others if possible. The FBI and FEMA also recommend “fighting” as an option but seriously, unless you have training in how to do that, that might not be your best option.
After help arrives, follow instructions, and seek treatment for the effects of trauma.
Be prepared and stay as safe as you can!