SET THE P.A.C.E. – A Guide For Managing Critical Threat in the Workplace.
I’ve been examining some protocols and procedures for managing critical incidents (my terminology, not theirs), and, while they are commendable, I believe in Verbal Judo’s paradigm (I am a former Advanced verbal Judo Instructor) for managing potential catastrophic (critical) incidents. P.A.C.E. is a flexible and enduring set of principles for handling the critical incident in a school place or other type of workplace that can be effective in resolving almost any crises I have come across.
A Critical Incident, by the way, is a term I use to describe a situation or scenario where a worker, administrator, student, client or patron, or the perpetrator himself has been killed, or, more likely, the threat of death or serious injury exists. Three examples that come immediately to mind are a hostage situation, an enraged intruder with a gun and/or a worker threatening to take his or her life, and, by definition one or two others down with him. What follows is a procedure that has saved lives in these and other critical incidents.
PROBLEM. The responding person (security, Resource Officer, employee, or responding law enforcement) needs to ask him/herself and/or the agitated person exactly what is the problem here? Determine not only what is the problem from your perspective, but that of the perpetrator, also.
AUDIENCE. What role is the audience playing in the severity of this problem? Moreover, what danger is the audience in if they are allowed to remain on the scene? And, of course, what, if anything can be done to remove or at least neutralize the audience?
CONSTRAINTS. Now ask yourself primarily what is or are the constraint(s) that is or are blocking you from resolving this problem? Is there anything you can do to use this constraint to resolve this issue? What can be done to work around this constraint(s)? I will point out how I suggest you can use constrainst to resolve a situation in a future post.
ETHICAL CONCERN. What do you, the responder, have to do to create the needed empathic or ethical perception to affect the agitated person? One needs to adopt a compassionate, caring and genuine ethical presence, yet remain in control of the situation.
SPECIFIC WORKPLACE STRATEGIES TO MANAGE AN INSTRUDER OR WORKER WITH A GUN.
(As an Example)
- Assess the Situation.
- Notify Police. Provide as much cogent information as possible. Be prepared to act as a liaison.
- a) Who is the gunman?
- b) Where is he located?
- c) Description of the weapon(s).
- d) Evidence that the gun is loaded? Has he discharged the weapon? What has his actual threats been?
- e) Are there any injured/dead victims?
- f) Is there a targeted victim on the scene?
- g) Any pertinent background information on the perpetrator?
- h) Quoted reasons or speculated reasons why person is carrying the weapon or plans to shoot?
- Isolate the individual or suspect. Cut and Herd the Audience.
- Confer with police once they arrive. Allow them t o instruct you and others on how you should proceed and how they intend to proceed.
- Independent of the police, if interaction with the perpetrator is imminent, do not use force or touch the person or weapon.
- Avoid sudden moves or gestures (I always say, “Slow It Down!”).
- Remain Calm. Keep voice void of fear or panic. Your tone and/or demeanor will strongly influence the outcome.
- Allow one other administrator know about the situation. But limit information to staff and workers on a need-to-know basis.
- Use pre-designed emergency signals to 0notify staff of the situation. Deside whether to Lock Down or Evacuate.
QUICK GUIDELINES FOR HANDLING A WEAPON-WIELDING WORKER.
- EVACUATE THE AREA.
- EVALUATE THE PERP.
- ISOLATE THE PERP.
- REMAIN CALM.
- GET HELP.
- AVOID HEROICS.
- DO NOT THREATEN.
- KEEP A SAFE, NON-INTIMIDATING DISTANCE.
- SLOW IT DOWN. AVOID ABRUPT, SPORADIC MOVEMENTS.
- USE BARRICADES IN THE ENVIRONMENT FOR COVER.
- REPORT INCIDENTS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Until the next post, Stay Safe.