John Bruner is frequently in a crisis mode. Nowadays, it’s an integral part of his work.
Bruner, 41, is a South Strabane Township police officer and the lead negotiator for the Washington Regional SWAT Team.
He also is president of In-Crisis Consulting, LLC, a two-year-old company that provides training to companies and their employees on how to prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident, an all-too-common yet growing phenomenon in this country.
Bruner launched the company with business partner Todd Ashmore of Washington.
“Our goal is to educate and train people on how to properly respond,” said Bruner, who will speak about crisis management Thursday at the monthly Washington County Manufacturers Association meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe.
Firearms, crisis management and mental health are hot-button issues in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., massacre in which a gunman killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, and the fatal shooting of three firefighters in Webster, N.Y., on Christmas Eve.
Bruner is appalled by the frequent mass shootings, yet is taking a proactive approach to preventing them.
“My hope is that this stops and we go out of business,” said Bruner, referring to In-Crisis Consulting. “There has to be a sense of urgency (in dealing with this) because these incidents are occurring at an alarming rate.”
Alarming, indeed, according to figures that Bruner has compiled and listed on his website, www.in-crisisconsulting.com. He said there have been 25 active shooter incidents since the Aurora, Colo., theater tragedy, which occurred only six months ago. There were only nine incidents in the 1960s and ‘70s combined.
His numbers show only one such incident in the ‘60s, then escalations to eight in the ‘70s, 25 in the ‘80s, 68 in the ‘90s and 149 in the first decade of the 21st century. Bruner projects the figures will continue to double this decade and over the next two.
Work sites are especially vulnerable, other data show. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were more than 500 workplace homicides in 2010. The financial toll is formidable as well: The Workplace Violence Research Institute estimates that violent acts costs U.S. businesses $36 billion a year.
“This could cripple us if we don’t know how to handle this,” said Bruner.
A 20-year law enforcement veteran, Bruner is at the forefront locally of attempting to do that.
While training people at companies, Bruner emphasizes the importance of a swift and efficient response. Many active shooting incidents, he points out, end in minutes, before first responders can arrive. Employees who are prepared, who will react properly without thinking, can prevent or substantially limit a shooting incident, many of which are carried out by a person or persons with a concealed pistol or semiautomatic pistol.
“At In-Crisis,” he says on his website, “proper reaction within the first five seconds of an active shooter incident is paramount.”
“The instinctive reaction in a crisis situation is the flight-or-fight mentality, where your thought processes break down,” said Bruner, who started his career immediately after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh. “When something unfolds, your ability to think straight stops. You have to be trained to have muscle memory, to have it kick in when something happens.
“This is how police officers, SWAT officers and the military are trained. They can complete their mission because they practice this and practice this and practice this.”
Mock scenario training for employees is one of In-Crisis Consulting’s primary services. It also assesses a company’s work site, develops a crisis response plan for each, strives to get employees and first responders together under one roof and provides litigation support. The company also offers robbery training for banks, pharmacies and retail outlets.
“No business is immune to a person ready to trigger an event,” he said.
He also advises employers and employees to look out for possible conflicts between individuals that could be lead to a tragic incident.
In-Crisis works with the Dialogue and Resolutions Center’s Center for Victims, which assists people who have been affected by violence and/or crime – such as the people who survived the attack in Sandy Hook Elementary.
“Those poor children in Connecticut will have post-traumatic stress disorder and other concerns,” said Bruner, who lives in Buffalo Township with his wife, Annette Clemente, a chiropractor, and their two rescued dogs.
Mental health issues have plagued a number of mass shooters in recent times, a situation that Bruner believes should be addressed more closely.
“We have to figure out what may lead up to these issues,” he said.
Bruner sidestepped the matter of gun control, but said there are a lot out there – an estimated 315 million in the country, roughly one per citizen.
“We have to be open-minded and explore all sides of controversial issues. We have to be open-minded to anything that would result in a resolution to this problem. We owe that to the victims.”
For more information on In-Crisis Consulting, go to the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.