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Training Grocery Store Employees on How to Respond to Active Shooters

Rouses Markets helps the Retail Learning Institute/IGA Coca-Cola Institute develop essential online course
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Tops Shooting
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband pay respects at a memorial at Tops Friendly Market, which was the site of a mass shooting, on May 28, 2022 in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Retail Learning Institute/IGA Coca-Cola Institute, in collaboration with Rouses Markets and the Thibodeaux, Louisiana Police Department, has launched an essential online course aimed at equipping grocery store employees with the necessary knowledge to respond effectively to active shooter incidents. Available in both English and Spanish, this concise 5-minute course provides a comprehensive how-to video that emphasizes the “Run, Hide, Defend” approach.  

According to Guns Down America, in the past year alone, there have been 159 gun violence incidents and 42 fatalities reported at the nation’s leading grocery retailers. Additionally, the Gun Violence Archive indicates that large supermarket chains experienced an average of four shootings per week, totaling over 600 incidents since January 2020. 

In March 2021, a mass shooting that resulted in 10 deaths occurred in a King Soopers in Boulder, Colo., store. A month later, a former Stop & Shop employee shot three workers at the supermarket chain’s location in Long Island, N.Y.

In May 2022, a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, N.Y., was the site of a racially motivated shooting that took the lives of 10 people. Later that year, a gunman killed six people just ahead of Thanksgiving in a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va.

The new active shooter course aims to promote best practices recommended by local law enforcement agencies for surviving these active shooter events. It is included in the course catalog available to all Institute retailers. Non-members can contact the Institute for further details.

Key features of the course include: 

  1. Identification of the three crucial actions to be taken during an active shooter event: Run, Hide, Defend. 
  2. Comprehensive explanations of the appropriate actions to take during each phase of an active shooter event, covering methods of escape, hiding strategies and self-defense as a last resort. 
  3. Development of personalized exit plans and increased situational awareness to enhance the chances of survival during an active shooter event. 

Progressive Grocer conducted a reader study earlier this year and found most respondents (78%) said it is important for their organization to be prepared to respond to a crisis and for crisis communications with customers, employees and others in the community. But when asked how prepared their organization is to respond to a crisis, and to be able to communicate quickly and effectively with employees and the community, only 19% said they were very well-prepared.

“We have developed this course to educate and prepare our employees, as well as the wider grocery community, with the essential knowledge required to respond to active shooter situations,” said Ashley Candebat, dean at Rouses University in New Orleans. “Our hope is that this training will never need to be actively implemented, but it is crucial to be well-prepared.” 

Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses has more than 7,000 team members at 60-plus stores across three states.

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