How To Respond to an Active Shooter Event
It can be difficult and downright intimidating to imagine yourself in a situation where there’s an active shooter. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in the middle of an active shooter event. In these moments, surviving is the only thing on a person’s mind. For this to happen, it’s important that the participants in an active shooter event are both mentally and physically prepared. After all, the way they respond to the situation at hand will largely dictate the outcome and affect their chances of survival.
Given how these events usually last under 15 minutes and are over before the law enforcement professionals arrive at the crime scene, readiness is vital. With that in mind, here’s how to respond to an active shooter event and deal with this critical situation effectively.
When there is an escape path...
In the case of an active shooter event, the ability to evacuate the area where there is a violent intruder can increase your chances of survival. For this to happen, there needs to be an escape path that you can access, ideally along with an additional escape route.
While you should try to help other participants in the event escape the premises, it’s best not to move individuals that have been wounded. Don’t force others to follow your plan of action and continue evacuating regardless. When it’s not possible to evacuate, hide in a place where there’s little chance of the intruder finding you, remain calm and quiet, and lock and/or barricade the door. When safe to do so, notify law enforcement about the intruder.
When evacuating or hiding out isn’t an option...
Sometimes, evacuating or hiding out may not be possible. In such instances, your best bet is to contact law enforcement professionals. This is the third of the five key steps to take during an active shooter event, and something that’s practiced during the ALICE drill training.
For those wondering what does ALICE training stand for, it’s an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. What’s important is that you remain calm and inform the authorities about the location of the active shooter. Unable to talk? Let the dispatcher listen to help them gain information about the active shooter being inside the premises.
When taking action against an active shooter...
When all else fails or the intruder puts your life in danger, the only way to effectively respond to the event and increase your chances of surviving is by taking action against them. This is the last resort, but also a move that can help incapacitate the intruder.
Be decisive about your moves, act aggressively, and make use of any potential weapons nearby. This can include everything from chairs to sharp or large objects. Distract them by throwing items at them, yell, and stay committed to what you’re doing.
When providing information to the law enforcement...
When possible, it’s best that you dial 911 and let them know as soon as possible about the active shooter event that’s taking place. There are certain pieces of information that are of vital importance during a crisis.
Start by providing the location of the intruder, and make sure to notify the police if there are more than one active shooter. Do your best to provide an accurate physical description of the intruder as well as which and how many weapons they have. Finally, specify the number of building occupants that could become potential victims.
When law enforcement arrives at the scene...
Last but not least, once the law enforcement professionals are there, let them proceed to the area in which the active shooter is. Don’t assume that you will receive immediate help once the law enforcement specialists are there. Stay out of their way, remain calm and quiet, and refrain from making any quick, abrupt movements. Instead, follow their directions, put down any items you’re carrying, and raise your hands.
Expect the law enforcement professionals to arrive equipped with Kevlar helmets, uniforms, and in some cases, rifles, tear gas, and pepper spray. Once the building is evacuated and you reach a safe location, do not scream, and keep your hands visible at all times. It’s important that you do not leave the safe area until given instruction by the officers. Follow any orders they give, and remember to leave your contact information so that they can reach you post-event.
An active shooter event is a situation where everything you do matters. You ought to be careful and plan your every move while also having a backup plan when possible.
By making sure you understand the right way to respond to an active shooter event, you can cultivate a sense of preparedness and manage to remain calm during such a stressful event. This will help you minimize harm, potentially save lives, and ensure the best possible outcome.