In the midst of this pandemic, we have seen a surge of “active shooter” events across the United States. These events that have occurred in schools, hospitals, religious facilities, and other places that hold many people have caused panic in our communities.
So, what should you do if you hear this? In an active shooter situation, you should immediately follow these guidelines: Run, Hide, Tell and Fight.
What is an Active Shooter?
An Active Shooter is a person who is actively shooting or attempting to shoot others, often with the intent to kill. The shooter is often wearing or carrying a military-style weapon. It is very important to note that an Active Shooter doesn’t always mean that the shooter is wearing a uniform or has a weapon visible to the public. A shooter can have a weapon that is not visible to the public or be wearing a civilian disguise. And while a shooter can be anywhere in the building, it is often in a particular area of the building that is considered to be the most dangerous.
A shooter has the intent to kill and is not afraid to use deadly force to do so. It is very important to understand that an Active Shooter can be inside the building, or a shooter can be outside, and still be an Active Shooter. There is no way to predict the number of casualties a particular shooting will have, and the location, manner and method used by the Active Shooter will determine the number of casualties. All that is known is the location, and the number of casualties will be based on the severity of the incident. The Active Shooter is often a person who is mentally unstable, highly agitated or determined to harm himself or herself or others and is often emotionally distraught. He or she may be attempting to kill one or more bystanders or even victims.
People who are not the shooter may be harmed by the shooter or by his or her bullets. He or she may be shooting in a room with innocent people in it. He or she may be shooting from a car. He or she may be shooting from an unknown distance (such as a bus or building). He or she may be shooting from a different location than the public knows about. Once you are aware of an Active Shooter, it is critical that you do everything in your power to follow these steps:
If you are not injured, run. Don’t try to outpace a shooter, as you could get killed. In fact, most people who are shot by a shooter do not survive. Run to an open area where people can see you and you can run to them instead of toward them. If possible, go to an escape route or area that is not crowded or busy. If you are in the building, find a door or window and exit. If the Active Shooter is shooting from a car, try to remain in the passenger seat and remain still. If you can see the shooter, keep eye contact, do not attempt to open the door. Do not try to leave the vehicle. Do not run toward the vehicle.
If you can't run away. Hide. Find a place to hide and preferably a place that is hard to see, such as behind a door or furniture. Stay in that location until you see an opportunity to escape. If you have an escape route or a place to hide, use it. The Active Shooter might try to find you. Do not hide in a location that is obvious to the shooter, such as a corner. If you must hide, hide in a place that you wouldn’t normally hide, such as behind the door of a supply closet. A supply closet may be a good place to hide, as it may have a lower entrance that is harder to see. Stay in your hiding place, as long as possible, and remain still and quiet. Do not try to make any sudden movements. If you hear an alarm sound, do not try to find out where it is coming from, or what it means. It may be a false alarm.
If the Active Shooter is in the building, call 911. Tell the dispatcher where you are, and what you have seen. Tell them about any suspicious activity you may have seen and tell them about what you have heard or what you think you know. Do not lie or exaggerate, as this will make it harder for first responders to find you if you are hiding. Also, if you are in a location that can be seen by the Active Shooter, do not try to get out of that location. Let the first responders go to you.
If you are injured or cannot hide, fight. A fight is the ultimate choice. Fight using anything you can get, such as a pipe, chair (if you can get it), or other hard item, as a weapon. Fight with as much force as you can. If you are unarmed, fight with whatever works for you. Fight until help arrives. Fight to save your life. Fight to save lives. Fight until the Active Shooter is neutralized. Fight until you are rescued. This is the last resort for you. There is no way to predict if you will survive, but you have the best chance if you do. In fact, people who do survive an Active Shooter attack tend to be people who fight back. If you do survive, you have the option of reporting what happened, and the police may be able to help.
It is critical to understand that an Active Shooter is a very serious threat and can result in a large number of casualties. If you are in a situation that looks like an Active Shooter situation, do not panic. Follow the steps above and know the options available to you. Also remember that you are not alone; help is on the way, and you have the option of reporting what happened.