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Workplace Violence Training: Best Practices & Trauma Response from Tactical Experts

Workplace Violence Training: Best Practices & Trauma Response from Tactical Experts

Workplace Safety Live Discussion Recap Article


Our expert-led tactical panel discussed various aspects of emergency response and preparedness, particularly in the context of active shooter scenarios at financial institutions and beyond. Our guest speakers from A+R Tactics included Nicole Thurman, Director of the Women's Training Institute, and Altonio Rivers, Director of Corporate training. Also on the panel was Ricky Rodriguez, former Senior Vice President of Operations at FirstCapital Bank of Texas and Certified Community Bank Security Officer.  


Why Workplace Violence Training for Financial Institutions?

Financial institutions often operate in high-stress, high-risk environments where denied loans, repossession, and other financial pressures can escalate into violence within a branch. Additionally, incidents of domestic violence may extend into the workplace, creating uncomfortable and unsafe situations for employees. Our live discussion with tactical experts covered the basics of being prepared, having a plan, and rendering aid in traumatic situations. 

> Replay the Discussion


Response Time and Importance of Immediate Action 

The average response time for emergency services can often be more than 10 minutes. When people are in need of aid, immediate action to keep blood in the body is crucial to prevent irreversible damage. 

"We have to be able to keep blood in the body. There becomes a point where the body has lost enough blood that it begins this downward cascade of the organ shutting down and it becomes irreversible, even though that person is still alive at that moment," said Nicole Thurman, Registered Nurse and tactical firearms instructor. 


Preparedness and Training 

It’s vital for all people to have basic training, such as Stop the Bleed, and to be physically fit to handle emergency situations. Knowing how to use simple aid interventions like tourniquets and other common supplies saves lives. 

"It's equipment we can all afford. And we hope we never have to use that. But if we do need to use it, it's highly, highly effective and you're going to be so glad that you took those few moments to learn how to use it and to carry the supplies," continued Thurman. 



Handling Different Threats 

The approach to managing different types of threats that can present themselves at financial institutions (e.g., domestic violence, disgruntled customers, and mass shooters) varies. It is important to understand the motivations behind each and respond accordingly. 

"When it comes to someone like a mass shooter, they've already made up their mind. Nine times out of ten they may have been their mind that they are going to die on the scene they're coming into. You would need to stop them as soon as you can," said Altonio Rivers, former SWAT team member, former police officer, and firearms instructor. 

For domestic violence situations, it's recommended to separate the involved parties first and foremost.


Effective Communication and Coordination 

Clearly assign tasks and communicate during an emergency. For example, designate someone specific to call 911 to ensure it's done. Coordination with law enforcement is also critical for effective response. 

 "You have to look at that person and be like, ‘you in the gray hat, you call 911,’ and you need verbal confirmation from them because everybody's under stress at that point," said Thurman. 


Safe Areas and Evacuation Plans 

Identify and mark safe areas within your facility and communicate with all employees. Practice and plan for potential scenarios to ensure everyone knows where to go and how to act during an emergency. You may even designate people to be dedicated 911 callers if issues arise, and designate people to meet emergency services and first responders outside the building in case of emergency. This can cut down on valuable time that responders may be searching for your branch location, parking lot, building access, etc.



Security Measures for Financial Institutions

Ricky shared that in his experience, an individual with a ski mask and weapon was stopped by an emergency button (mag lock) pressed by his branch's greeter, which locked the door and triggered a silent alarm. The criminal was denied access and authorities were able to receive prompt notification. 

Other mitigation technology includes panic buttons (similar to garage remotes) for triggering silent alarms, intrusion panels with morning opening rules to trigger silent alarms if codes are not re-entered within 15 minutes, and weapons detection for compliance and real-time notifications.

In Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union's experience, their growing number of security incidents and close work with local school districts prompted implementation of a weapons detection system. Now, any brandished weapon detected on-premise will be immediately sent via push notification to authorized personnel with the location and video feed of the criminal. From there, employees can take further action (locking doors, closing blinds), and authorities can be called. Learn more about the weapons detection system here.



Training and Preparedness for Financial Institutions

Stress response training emphasizes the necessity of practical training to handle stress and potential violence, highlighting that many individuals, including trained fighters, often freeze in real-life situations. This training incorporates both team and individual exercises, stressing the importance of stress testing security officers and employees. It includes team-based scenarios and the use of tools like training pistols to provide realistic practice, ensuring participants are better prepared for actual threats. A+R Tactics provides in-person and virtual trainings for branches of any size. 



Run, Hide, Fight Strategy 

The importance of mindset in the 'fight' part of the strategy was emphasized, advocating for practical examples and simple, effective actions over advanced combat skills. The discussion also highlighted the effectiveness of overwhelming attackers with numbers and simple tools, such as tactical pens, instead of relying on pain compliance or weapons like pepper spray. Thurman pointed out that pepper spray and mace may not affect criminals as intended, and if you wind up in a face-to-face situation with them, you are then at risk of getting the substance on your hands and in your eyes. 


Resources and Continuous Training 

Affordable web-based and on-site training resources for financial institutions of all sizes are available for employees to gain practical knowledge. The discussion encouraged building threat management teams with representatives from various departments to enhance preparedness and response. 


Closing Remarks 

Building a safety culture was emphasized as essential, reinforcing the value of teamwork and preparation in creating a safe work environment. The importance of practical training to handle stress and potential violence was noted, addressing how even trained fighters might freeze in real situations.  

Team and individual training, including stress testing security officers and employees through team-based scenarios and tools like training pistols, is recommended. Financial institutions can mitigate violent acts simply by being prepared and trained. Continued support and resources for further training and safety planning are encouraged to ensure a comprehensive approach to building a safety culture. 

> Watch the Full Discussion Here



The Speakers

Nicole Thurman: Nicole is a baccalaureate RN and certified firearms and combatives instructor with expertise in self-protection, home defense, active shooter training, and civilian trauma response, holding belts in Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and various certifications including NRA and USCCA Firearms Instructor, Simunitions Certified Instructor, and Red Cross Certified Instructor, among others. 

Altonio Rivers: Altonio, a former US Marine and CMPD Detective with 18 years of service, also collaborated with the FBI on human trafficking, is a former SWAT team member, and is certified in firearms instruction, range safety, and martial arts. 

Ricky Rodriguez: Ricky brings over 17 years of experience in the financial industry to his role as Solutions Manager at FTSI. Having served in various capacities, including Senior Vice President of Operations at FirstCapital Bank of Texas and Certified Community Bank Security Officer, Ricky possesses a deep understanding of operational efficiency and security protocols. His wealth of expertise makes him a valuable resource for enhancing daily security processes within financial institutions. 


Additional Resources for Financial Institutions