“Bad to Worse” – Setting the Stage for Enhanced Preparedness and Improved Outcomes 

 January 23, 2019

By  Craig LaPine

The PrePlanLive team had the honor of breaking bread with a legend in the Special Operations community in early 2018 – Tom Spooner (U.S. Army, Retired, 1st SFOD-D (Abn)) – a true tactical expert who is now using his experiences to give back to the military community through organizations that are his passion:  Warrior’s Heart, Mission 22, and Elder Heart.

During our long and winding conversation, one statement he made resonated with us, as it was (and is) so applicable to what we are doing with PrePlanLive:  “when someone starts shooting inside of a building, there are no “good” outcomes – it isn’t a matter of good or bad – it is whether the outcome is bad or worse.”  This is the harsh reality we face in our schools, churches, and businesses:  if someone intends to do harm, we need to be prepared to act and mitigate the situation – to prevent a bad outcome from becoming even worse.  So what does this mean?


  • Know the health of your current safety and security program – Security/Vulnerability Assessments conducted by knowledgeable professionals are critical in gaining an understanding of both strengths and areas where you can/should enhance your safety and security profile.
  • Have a plan, understand the plan, and test the plan (via drills).  Connect early and often with First Responders for their input and participation.
  • Make the plans accessible (it’s the 21st Century, and you ALWAYS have your phone.  So why not use an app for providing secure access to your plans?).  Murphy’s Law always applies – emergencies will invariably happen at the least opportune time.
  • Encourage your staff to take action.  An informed staff member who (1) knows the plan,  (2) can access the plan, and (3) feels empowered to act is a priceless asset in any emergency situation.
  • Bleed Control Kits.  Did you know that rapid treatment of a traumatic bleed can drastically improve the patient’s chances of survival?  You need more than just a first aid kit, but make sure you know what you are getting in a bleed control/trauma kit.  Not all tourniquets are effective on smaller sizes, and not all tourniquets are easy to apply.  (Our CTAK (Classroom Trauma Action Kit) uses RATS Tourniquets (almost universally effective, can be properly applied by kids as young as 8) and simple-to-use contents).  Make sure you have bleed control kits – and make sure they are NOT centrally located in hallways.  Do you want your staff or students running from the safety of their locked classrooms to hallways to get a bleed control kit?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to equip each classroom with its own kit?


  • React vs Respond.  When you ‘react,’ that ‘reaction’ is an unplanned, ad hoc, and emotion-based action.  “Response,” conversely, is a deliberate, aware, and solutions-based action.  Provide your staff with the tools, training, and environment that fosters RESPONSE rather than REACTION.
  • Notification & Communication.  Alerting staff, decision makers, AND First Responders that an emergency incident is occurring is critical.  9-1-1 should ALWAYS be step 1.  Now you need to quickly alert everyone else – so they can take immediate action (those who are at the emergency location) and begin implementing Critical Incident Management procedures (off-site decision makers, mutual aid agencies).  Now imagine a Notification & Communication tool that sends these alerts – and also provides you with instant access to Emergency RESPONSE Plans.
  • If you are there, you are a first responder.  A growing body of evidence proves that early action – even by people who are NOT trained – has a direct impact on survival rates.  We NEED you to be willing to grab that CTAK, apply a pressure dressing, and wrap that tourniquet.  Someone’s life may depend on it.
  • Building Intelligence.  Again, this is the age of Alexa and Siri and the Cloud and smart phones.  But First Responders are still flying blind when they arrive at your facility.  At best one person on the department has a 3-ring binder (or thumb drive) full of information, information that may or may not be current.  Or accurate.  Or what they need.  First Responders NEED rapid access to the critical details of your facility.  From exterior door numbers to utility shutoff locations, Building Intelligence puts responders on scene with the information they need to be quick, efficient, and effective.

These elements are simply the foundation for an effective and redundant safety and security ecosystem.  The totality of that ecosystem is much larger – but these are the initial steps you can take to help ensure you prevent a bad situation from becoming much, much worse.

(The mention of Tom Spooner here, and the use of our conversational snippet, does not constitute an endorsement – implied or otherwise – by Tom.  We at PrePlanLive do, however  – and wholeheartedly so – endorse Warrior’s Heart, Mission 22, and Elder Heart as extraordinarily worthy non-profit causes that do more for our veterans that we can begin to describe here.)

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Craig LaPine
Craig LaPine