Since I learned of the statistic, and reasoning, of 15 million incidents of workplace violence (WPV) from the study conducted by the University of South Florida in 2005 I have quoted it. The study was specifically on WPV and I usually get only guffaws and harrumphs when discussing the number of incidents and victims.
At a luncheon a few years ago I was told by a Phoenix police detective, who was head of the workplace violence prevention unit, that those numbers are inflated because they were trying to justify their jobs and show that they needed more money for research. Hmmmm, does seems kinda plausible until you look deeper into the numbers and how there can be so many.
I will quote some numbers that I heard after the ft. Lauderdale Airport shooting on January 6. This may well explain why there are more than 15 million victims of WPV a year. And being truthful and honest many security professionals, law enforcement, and social services get caught up with the number that are shot but…
- 5 killed by being shot at point blank range – that we all knew of
- 6 were wounded by the same gunfire – another number we already knew
- 36 people were injured by attempting to flee the shooting gallery that the terminal 2 baggage claim became, or were overcome by heat exhaustion waiting on the tarmac. Did you know that?
- 150 – 200 people in the immediate vicinity of the shooting that were traumatized by it. Did anyone think of them?
That is a total of 197 – 247 people who were injured, wounded, killed, or traumatized in one WPV incident. And only 11 were hit by gunfire. Many of the media, security professionals, law enforcement, and others will tout those 11 as the only actual victims.
Those that were injured were because of twisted & sprained ankles, cuts, bumps, & bruises, dehydration, and heat exhaustion from standing on the tarmac for hours all requiring some medical attention. Are they not still victims? Did they ask for those injuries? Did they cause themselves to become injured, dehydrated, get sunburns and not even enjoy it? The answer is obviously an emphatic no. So why is their pain and suffering not counted just because they weren’t shot? In the middle of winter a car skids on icy roads and hits another. No one is injured because of that, just a minor fender bender, common in the snowy states. One passenger gets out of the car, instantly slipping, falling, and sustaining a concussion, is that a result of the accident? Of course it is. Should it be anything different?
If a construction worker mishandles a heavy object and it causes severe injury or death of a co-worker, even unintentionally, is the result of the injury attributed to the first co-worker? Of course it is. And both of these are counted in the statistics as such, when it comes to insurance and police response.
So why are not the individuals injured/traumatized as a direct result of a WPV incident counted in the statistics as such? I can’t answer that question other than it’s not ‘sexy’ enough to be bothered with but I have to say that we as security professionals, law enforcement, and the media need to start thinking in larger terms than gunshot wounds or those killed by a 9mm to properly assess the human damage caused.
If we do that then we will approach the 15 million numbers of incidents and the actual numbers of people injured (which by definition means traumatized – think PTSD), wounded, and killed in these events. It is unfortunate, law enforcement and the media tend to believe in the old adage that ‘if it bleeds it leads’ otherwise it’s not worth mentioning.
However, I think that the people that have been traumatized by an event being so close to it should also be counted. Likewise the ones that were injured while attempting to get away should also count in the numbers of overall victims.
The perception of WPV is that it won’t happen to us, where we work, vacation (think events in Mexico on January 14 & 16, 2017), or otherwise play or eat. And while it may not be reasonable to be paranoid about everything every single place you go… You need to take the necessary precautions and have the situational awareness and be prepared for these events, so you won’t be surprised if one were to occur where you are at.
As for being traumatized…anyone can be traumatized by almost anything, just like being offended by something. George Bernard Shaw was traumatized by his wife’s pubic hair, therefore refusing to have sex throughout his life. Children and adults get traumatized by clowns and other events that usually have no basis in fact. People get offended by an innocent off handed remark or word, again with no realistic basis in reality.
But the overall point is to draw your attention to the actual number of victims that have been affected by a WPV, school violence, or domestic violence incident. It may not stay with them long, a few hours or days but it is there. Many of the people who have injuries not directly linked to being shot will suffer nearly as much as those who had their blood hideously splattered on walls, floors, and other people.
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I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear