On a late Saturday afternoon in June, 2016, employees at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub were preparing to open for the night. A DJ set up the booth and checked sound, bartenders prepped the bar area, the club was cleaned and ready to open. Neither employees nor patrons had any idea what was about to happen later that night.

At 2 am, Omar Mateen, a 29-year old man who had been investigated for terrorism, entered the club with a semiautomatic rifle and an automatic pistol and began shooting. 22 minutes later, he made a 911 call pledging allegiance to ISIS as he took hostages. At approximately 5 am, he was killed by police. In what became the scene of the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, Mateen killed forty-nine people and 53 were injured. The club has not reopened and may never reopen.

How can a business prepare for something like that?

Social media presents opportunities. In the above graphic, Pulse management was able to provide warning to patrons and to the community as the event was happening. This was clearly too late for people who had been killed or injured, but it served to inform the community. There are steps that a business owner can take to minimize risk. They include, but are not limited to:

  1. Hire veterans. That’s right. Veterans are trained with firearms and close combat techniques. If armed security or law enforcement is not available, an employee with military training or an employee with a concealed carry permit could offer an effective defense.
  2. Develop emergency response protocols. Develop plans in advance and offer training on implementing them. This includes communicating with leadership or authorities.
  3. Identify operational requirements for business continuity during emergencies. Secure vital information off-site and alert payroll providers, IT, manufacturing, supply chain, or other critical functions.
  4. Perform regular insurance checkups. It is possible to insure against a wide variety of risks. Insurance agents are your best source of education and your best resources. Determine if it is worthwhile to insure against terrorism. Learn about the costs and limitations of coverage.
  5. Conduct drills regularly. As employees come and go, new hires need familiarization with protocols.

Advance planning always increases chances of minimizing damage due to terrorism or other disasters. Invest time in planning and preparing the people of your business to get through adversity.