The chances of you being involved in any type of active shooter event throughout your life is very low. However, the consequences of an active shooter event are extremely high and could result in loss of life and severe injuries to yourself and others. Therefore, it is important to be prepared and know what steps you can take if you ever find yourself in the presence of an active shooter.
There are three things you need to remember to do in an active shooter situation:
RUN – HIDE – FIGHT
Your first and safest course of action during an active shooter event is to run (or evacuate). If you can’t run because the shooter is in your vicinity, your second course of action should be to hide or take shelter in a safe area. Your last course of action is to fight. If confronted by the shooter, and there is little chance to escape, you should be prepared to fight.
If you hear shots fired, you should immediately move away from the direction of the shooting and toward the nearest exit. If you are unsure of your surroundings, follow exit signs toward the nearest stairway. Stairway is typically a good choice because you will not have to wait for the elevator and stairways typically exit out of the building. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these exits. Although windows are not always suitable for egress, in some facilities windows may be a preferable escape option.
Once in a safe area, call 911.
Active Shooter Procedure
- If you hear shots fired, you should move to the nearest exit opposite the direction of the shooting. Keep these things in mind while you run:
- The police are on their way – keep your hands visible and follow police commands
- Don’t worry about your personal items – leave them behind and recover them later
- Use your judgment – there may be some debate on what to do, if you believe that you can run, then you should run!
- Help others if safe to do so – if you can’t help, notify responders that others are in need of help
- Exit signs will point you to the stairway in most Buildings. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these exits.
- Once in a safe location, call or have someone call 911
- If running is not possible, then the next course of action is hiding or sheltering-in-place.
- Move to a room, preferably one that is lockable from the inside, and if possible, do your best to barricade the door and cover any windows.
- Hide behind large heavy objects and stay out of the shooter’s line of sight.
- Place cell phones on silent, and shut off lights.
- Stay quiet and call or have someone call 911 (only when safe to do so).
- Begin developing a plan of attack in case the shooter enters your area.
- Wait for and follow instructions from First Responders.
- If confronted by the shooter, and there is little chance of escape, you should be prepared to fight. Things to consider when fighting include:
- Doors are hard to breach – lock or barricade them if possible
- Develop a simple plan as a group and attack as one team
- It’s hard to fight from the ground. Place tripping hazards in the line of the shooter and/or make the floor slippery if possible. Swarm, knock down and immobilize the shooter.
- It’s best to attack in a large group throwing items, hitting the shooter with heavy items and if possible knock down, immobilize and disarm the shooter.
- Once safe, call or have someone call 911
Recognizing Signs of Potential School/Workplace Violence
Active shooters rarely react on impulse. Attacks are typically planned over long periods of time and behavioral warning signs typically are present prior to an attack. Many shootings have been prevented by individuals who recognize and report potentially troubling behavior. If you suspect that someone may be a harm to themselves or others, report it immediately to supervisors, co-workers and the local authorities.
Signs might include the following:
- Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures.
- Repeated violations of school/company polices.
- Increased severe mood swings.
- Noticeably unstable or emotional responses.
- Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation.
- Suicidal; comments about “putting things in order”.
- Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“Everybody is against me”).
- Talk of previous incidents of violence.
- Empathy with individuals committing violence.
- Increase in unsolicited comments about violence, firearms, and other dangerous weapons and violent crimes.