In June, a 45-year-old fired employee of an Orlando RV accessory manufacturing plant returned to the business and opened fire on former co-workers. He killed five people before shooting and killing himself.

It was another in an increasingly common pattern of “active shooter” tragedies that are striking businesses, schools and government facilities across the nation.

An active shooter incident involves one or more individuals engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. A recently released FBI study of active shooter incidents in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013 found an average of 6.4 incidents per year in the first seven years. The number jumped to 16.4 per year in the latter seven years. In a follow-up FBI analysis covering 2014 and 2015, the number of annual mass shootings rose to 20 per year.

The FBI’s “Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013” found 70 percent of incidents took place in commercial, business or educational environments and claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people.

While it is unlikely a court or government agency will find employers “at fault” for not stopping these shootings, employers are expected to recognize the dangers and prepare their workforces to respond.

Former Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Booker is focusing his new company, Consulting for Active Shooter Emergencies LLC, on helping employers respond. He can be reached at 661-237-3006 or through his website, www.case911.com.

An Army veteran, Booker’s law enforcement experience spans two decades and includes membership on the county’s SWAT team and service as a sniper. Before being medically retired in 2015, after being shot by an armed fugitive, he was the head instructor for his agency’s active shooting training course. He worked on special assignments alongside the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, Bureau of Land Management and Secret Service.

In his retirement, Booker turned to the Small Business Development Center at California State University, Bakersfield, for help in establishing his consulting business.

“No longer working in a law enforcement capacity, I wanted to continue providing help to citizens,” Booker explained. “By using my unique skill set and experience, I train and advise business, school and church staffs about how to prepare and respond to an active shooter attack.”

Among the company’s “basic course” offerings is a four-hour “prepare/response training” course that is intended to provide employees with the thought process and knowledge needed to overcome threats and increase the chances of surviving an active shooter incident. Elements of the course include: proper mindset, mental awareness, response to an active shooter, lockdown procedures, communications, proper response to law enforcement, response to explosives and simulated scenarios.

“Active shooter incidents are horrific and swift — often lasting only 10 minutes,” Booker explained. “Typically, they end in multiple injuries and deaths, with the shooter dying by suicide or being killed by law enforcement.

“But the police, firefighters and EMTs who respond to the scene of the carnage are not the ‘first responders.’ The employees, students, shoppers and bystanders are the first responders. They are on the scene first. They are the ones who must know what to do and be trained to do it.”

The SBDC’s professional consultants at CSUB are helping Booker develop business and marketing plans, as well as business systems for CASE. Consultants, who bring a wide-range of experience and expertise to their SBDC work, meet on a one-on-one basis with local entrepreneurs, often over months and years.

The Small Business Development Center at CSUB is one of five service centers within the University of California, Central California SBDC Regional Network, which is a partnership between the university and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The center at CSUB assists entrepreneurs and small-business owners in Kern, Inyo and Mono counties by providing free consulting, small-business training and research. For more information, go to www.csub.edu/sbdc.

Kelly Bearden is the director of the Small Business Development Center at Cal State Bakersfield.

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