It was only a security exercise, and employees at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts knew it. Even then, it was terrifying when a police officer posing as a gunman burst in and started shooting blanks, says the Boston Globe. An administrative assistant was shaking so badly she could barely dial 911. Workers who had locked themselves inside a ward refused to let police in, even after they slid their business cards under the door to prove who they were. As mass shootings traumatize the nation, more employers are putting security measures in place to prevent or minimize bloodshed. A few, like the Cambridge Health Alliance, which operates three hospitals in the Boston area, have staged elaborate drills to anticipate how to deal with a gunman. Others, like the Cranston, R.I., manufacturing firm Taco Inc., are putting their employees through classroom training to identify exits, hiding places, and methods of fighting back.
Many more companies have moved to make their facilities safer by locking doors, installing cameras, hiring security staff, and developing closer relationships with local police. “We've absolutely seen an increase” in companies tightening their security protocols, said Matthew Lofaro of APG Security, a New Jersey-based security firm that started providing “active shooter awareness” seminars five years ago and has held training for more than 75 clients nationwide. The preparedness drills and extra security were underway in many workplaces before the shooting that last week claimed the lives of 14 people in San Bernardino, Ca. The rise in preparedness may have helped reduce the overall number of workplace homicides. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that figure fell from more than 1,000 in 1995 to just over 400 last year. Nonfatal workplace incidents — someone bashing in the headlight on a coworker's car or stalking a fellow employee online, for example — happen with disturbing frequency, said Marian Ryan, the Middlesex County district attorney.