Active shooting incidents, seem to be happening all over the place. Large cities, small towns, schools, movie houses, workplace, almost everywhere. We must become aware of how to deal with an active shooter situation. Welcome to life in the 21st century.
When faced with an Active Shooter situation, you have one of three things you must remember Run - Hide - Fight.
Disclaimer: this information is advisory in nature and is not intended to identify all scenarios or situations a person might encounter. Following these guidelines will not guarantee your safety. Use common sense in all situations.
Profile of an Active Shooter
We must look at what an active shooter looks like or how they act. If you are able to identify someone who might be an active shooter quickly. Then you can begin to take preparedness actions quicker than most. I am not saying that you must raise the alarms right away, but if you see someone looking strange, maybe wearing an overcoat in the middle of summer, or wearing combat fatigues and carrying a backpack, you might want to look for your nearest exit or start to mentally develop a plan, what am I going to do, if this guy starts shooting.
An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
- Good practices for coping with an active shooter situation:
- Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
- Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.You should also note fire extinguishers or any item that you can use as a weapon, if needed.
- If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.
- If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
- Call 911 when it is safe to do so!
If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:
- Have an escape route and plan in mind.
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Run away from the gunfire.
- Help others escape, if possible. Do not wait for others.
- Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
- Keep your hands visible and held above your head, so officers know you are not a threat.
- Follow all law enforcement agents instructions.
- Do not attempt to move wounded people.
- Run as fast as you can to the evacuation point.
- Call 911 when you are safe.
Working with law enforcement
Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
- Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4).
- Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment.
- Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
- Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
- Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.
When law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions.
- Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets). Remember here folks, that an officer adrenalin is pumping, if he or she sees anything that might look like a weapon, they will perceive you as a threat and may begin shooting.
- Immediately raise hands and spread fingers.
- Keep hands visible at all times.
- Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety.
- Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling.
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises .
Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operator:
- Location of the active shooter
- Number of shooters, if more than one
- Physical description of shooter/s
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
- Number of potential victims at the location
The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.
Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave the safe location or assembly point until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.
Here is a good place to note, that if this is a school shooting. Parents, you will not be able to pick up your kids at the scene of the incident. Police will transport them to an entry control point or ECP. Once you, as the parent arrive at the incident, ask a police officer where this location is and go there to wait for news.
Shelter in Place (Hide)
If it sounds like gunfire and evacuation is not possible, then find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.
If you are wounded, stay calm and quiet. Understand the first help to arrive is there to stop the violence, not render first aid. Calling out to them, in a panic, will only draw attention to your location.
Your hiding place should:
- Be out of the active shooter’s view
- Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
- Not trap you or restrict your options for movement
- To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place, Barricade any entrance into the area. Lock the doors if possible..
If the active shooter is nearby:
- Lock the door.
- Silence your cell phone and/or pager.
- Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions).
- Gather objects to fight the shooter with, if you can do so safely.
- Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks).
- Remain quiet and calm.
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
- Remain calm
- Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
Fight the active shooter (FIGHT)
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
- Throwing items at the shooter to distract him and use improvising weapons.
- Committing to your actions. What we mean here is, if you have to fight. fight like your life depends on it, because, it does. Go for the shooters soft spots, like his throat, groan, eyes, etc.
- Attempt to control the barrel of the gun, by pointing in down towards the ground.
- When the gunman is disarmed have someone ensure the gun is out of the gunman's reach and stand on it. Do not touch the gun. This is because you will leave your fingerprints on the weapon.
- Once Law enforcement agents arrive at your location, follow all their verbal commands and let them take over the scene.