An active shooter is an individual actively committing the act of killing people in a crowded and confined area. Active shooters use weapons such as firearms, bladed weapons, vehicles, or any other tool that constitutes deadly physical force. In most instances, there’s no pattern or approach for selecting victims.
In an active shooter situation, it’s difficult to predict what will happen next. Generally, the timely deployment of law enforcement is necessary to control the shooting, minimize harm to victims, and avoid casualties. Because shooting situations usually last 10 to 15 minutes, you must be mentally and physically prepared to handle the situation before law enforcement arrives.
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As the number of shooting incidents increases, it’s also best for you to be prepared. Here are some precautions to take if you find yourself in a shooting situation.
1. Stay Calm
While it’s natural to feel panicked, it’s best to resist the urge. Make an effort to relax and focus on the situation to improve your chances of survival. Remember that keeping yourself together can help you act and think fast.
2. Examine The Situation Thoroughly
Before you do anything drastic, evaluate the active shooting scenario to make the best decisions.
Be on the lookout, observe your surroundings, and try to confirm the active shooter’s location by asking individuals you might encounter along the way. Doing so will assist you in determining your next course of action.
If the shooter is a long way from you, such as in another wing of the building or moving in the opposite direction, consider evacuating the area if you’re sure there’s an escape route. If you’re unsure, remain calm and look for a place to hide until law enforcement arrives.
During the ordeal, it’s best to spread out if you’re with a small group and crouch down to lessen the chances of being shot. You can assist those with disabilities and others who need help once you confirm that it’s safe to do so.
3. Evacuate The Area
If you can see an accessible escape route, you need to make an effort to evacuate the premises immediately. In such scenarios, make sure to:
• Prepare an escape route and a strategy.
• Evacuate whether or not others agree to join you.
• Don’t bring anything with you.
• Try to help others, if possible.
• Prevent people from going into an area where an active shooter might be.
• Keep your hands visible at all times.
• Follow any police officer’s instructions carefully.
• Do not try to move people who have been injured.
• Once you’re in a safe area, dial 911.
4. Stay Hidden
If evacuating the area isn’t possible, look for a location to hide where the shooter will find it hard to see you.
The ideal hiding spot should be concealed from the active shooter’s view, provide protection if shots are fired in your direction, and not entrap or restrict your movement.
Always lock the door and block it with heavy furniture if you want to keep an active shooter out of your hiding spot. In an active shooting incident, door security devices and barricades that deter intruder entry would be highly beneficial.
If the active shooter is likely to be close by, you must take the following steps:
• Close and lock the door.
• Switch off your phone or pager.
• Turn off all noise-producing sources, such as televisions and radios.
• Hide behind large items like desks or cabinets.
• Try to stay as quiet as possible.
Remember to stay calm if you are hiding. Try to call 911, if possible, to alert the police to the active shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, you can leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
Lastly, avoid opening the door to anyone other than the police. If you hear a voice command, don’t respond until you’re sure it’s from a police officer. Don’t forget to ask for identification as an added safety precaution.
5. Take Steps To Stop The Active Shooter
In an active shooter situation, you should only use force as a last alternative if you believe your life is in danger.
You can derail or overpower the shooter by yelling, acting aggressively, improvising weapons, and throwing items.
6. Response To The Arrival Of Law Enforcement
The main objective of the police is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. The officers will rush to the location where the last shots were fired.
Law enforcers may have external bulletproof vests and other tactical gear. They might also be armed with shotguns, rifles, and handguns. In some cases, pepper spray or tear gas will control the situation. It’s best to pay attention because the officer may issue commands to maintain everyone’s safety.
In most active shooting events, the first officers to arrive will not stop to assist any injured individuals. Additional law enforcers and emergency medical personnel are usually deployed to the rescue team. Generally, the rescue teams will treat and remove any injured individuals from the scene. Those who are capable will be asked to assist in removing injured people from the premises.
Maintain your composure and carefully follow the officer’s instructions. Make sure to set aside any items you’re holding, raise your hands, and spread your fingers while keeping your hands visible. Avoid making quick motions toward the officers, such as holding on to them for safety.
Once you’ve arrived at a safe location, you’ll remain there until the situation has been stabilized and all witnesses to the incident have been identified and questioned.
Avoid leaving the area until the police officers have given you the all-clear.
In any situation involving an active shooter, it’s crucial to be familiar with the appropriate steps to take to stay safe and minimize the chances of ending up with injuries.
These situations are unforeseeable, so you have to be on your toes until the problem is contained. Your chances of survival will significantly improve if you understand the basic precautions in an active shooter situation.