Home Emergency Management News Active Shooter Security Training Needed for Members of the Media

Active Shooter Security Training Needed for Members of the Media


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

This week, there was another fatal school shooting. This one happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The shooting spree left 17 people dead and over 14 others wounded. It also sparked renewed discussion about gun control and how to prevent future active shooter incidents.

As this shooting unfolded, multiple news media rushed to report from the site. Some news sources showed footage of the scene and the triage set up by fire and emergency medical services departments. Other news outlets later reported that the shooter tried to escape punishment by blending in with the students and staff being evacuated.

Media Should Be Careful Not to Air Information that Potential Shooters Could Use

The United States has several very important freedoms – including freedom of the press and freedom of speech. But it is particularly important during incidents such as the Douglas High School shooting to prevent the media from sharing too much information.

Unfortunately, active shooter situations have increased. To keep aspiring shooters from making their attacks more successful and lethal, any discussion of a shooter’s tactics should not appear in the mainstream news. By receiving security training about what information not to divulge, reporters could help lessen the lethal effects of any future shooter incidents.

Balancing Free Speech with the Need to Keep Criminals from Learning Dangerous Information

Members of the media perform an important public service by reporting events so that citizens can understand what is happening. This reporting is politically important because it keeps citizens informed about their government. Free speech is so fundamental a right that the founding fathers included free speech in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.

The advent of the Internet and developments in computer science and technology have made it quite easy for criminals to research information that could help them carry out mass shootings. Members of the media must learn more about security boundaries and how to prevent vital information from falling into the wrong hands.

As we’ve seen from numerous active shooter incidents, criminals learn from each other. Unless news outlets become more cautious in what they release to the general public, there will be more security threats in the future.

Determining What the Public Should Know Is Difficult, but Not Impossible

Finding the balance between keeping the public informed and withholding specific information on active shooter incidents will be difficult. But that balance must be found to protect the general public.

Any information about the tactics of active shooters, the types of weapons they used and any other pertinent information should never be released to the public. Safeguarding such information will become increasingly important to saving lives and preventing active shooter situations in the future.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.