It’s only August, 2022 and there have already been over 300 mass shootings in the US. Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings. And as uncomfortable as it is, this is not a topic we can continue ignoring.
Steps need to be taken to create awareness around the topic, prevent these incidents from happening and even more importantly, prepare individuals mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
What do you do when you find yourself in an active shooter incident?
The FBI describes an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. The person will most likely be armed with a firearm and since there is no method or pattern used to select their victims, you could very easily be next. So, how do you protect yourself?
Moreover, most active shooter incidents are usually over in 10-15 minutes which means by the time local law enforcement gets to the scene, it may already be too late.
It is for these reasons that we created our active shooter response training program. The training provides all members of an organization with tools that can help keep them and their coworkers safe in the event of an active shooter event.
The training puts a lot of emphasis on the “RUN, HIDE, or FIGHT” protocol developed by the Department of Homeland Security and in this post, we will explore the basics of how the protocol works.
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Run, Hide, Fight – Active Shooter Protocol
If you hear shots fired in your workplace or you witness an armed person shooting or threatening people, you need to quickly determine which of the three options stands as the best choice to save your life and act promptly.
RUN: Evacuate the danger zone
This is your best course of action if there is considerable distance between you and the active shooter meaning you can run without getting hit.
Running should be the default option unless you are in the same room or section with the attacker. Just make sure you are running away and not towards the active shooter.
If the shooter is already in the building, determine the safest exit points and start running towards them. You can encourage others to follow you but don’t be left behind if someone is unwilling to run. You also need to be very assertive in your action so that indecisiveness from others does not slow you down.
Speaking of which, leave your belongings behind. Trying to save your valuables will only slow you down and at this point, nothing is more valuable than your life.
Once you are out of the building, pick a safe spot and then proceed to call the police. Never assume that the incident has already been reported. And even if it has, you might have previously unreported information that will help the police better neutralize the situation. Like the number of active shooters, their location, number of weapons, type of weapons, and physical description of the shooters.
If law enforcement has already arrived at the scene while you exit the building, make sure your hands are visible as you run towards them. This will help show that you are unarmed and hence you are not a threat.
HIDE: Look for a safe space
If it’s impossible to run without putting yourself in the direct line of fire, your next best option is to hide. If there is a room with particularly thick walls and few windows and you can safely reach it, choose it as your hiding spot. This way, the shooter can’t shoot through the walls and they can’t target you through the windows.
Once inside the safe space, lock the doors and use furniture or anything else you can find as a barricade. Limit visibility into the room by turning off the lights, and closing windows, shades, and blinds.
Also, silence your phone or any other device you have that could alert the shooter to your location. Now stay low and do your best to remain calm and quiet. Don’t come out until you have an “all clear” signal.
If you are outdoors and can’t hide inside a room, look for something like a brick wall, a large tree, or a nearby building to hide.
The point is to find a spot that can protect you from incoming bullets, giving you a chance to map your next course of action.
If the mass shooter breaches your hiding place and you have nowhere left to run or hide, it’s time to fight for your life.
FIGHT: Last resort
If you have absolutely no chance of getting away from an active shooter situation without getting shot, fighting is your best chance of survival. This could happen if the attacker breaches your hiding spot or you are too close to the shooter at that moment when they start shooting.
In this case, you will need to be very swift, aggressive and committed to your actions because your life depends on it. You cannot let fear make you hesitate. Every second counts.
Your main objective should be to disrupt the actions of the shooter, disarm them and incapacitate them. If there is anything near you that you can use as a weapon, then the better. Fire extinguishers, chairs, forks, glasses, anything you find can be used as an improvised weapon and will increase your chances of overpowering the shooter.
You may not be able to completely turn the game against the active shooter but fighting them can buy you time to make your escape.
Immediately after the incident, it is advised that you wait for the local law enforcement to help you out of the building. Make sure that your hands are empty and are visible to the law enforcers when they come in.
Finally, remain calm and follow all their instructions. Avoid making quick movements towards the officers even if you just want to hold on to them for safety.
What you can expect from our training
What we have explored in the article are just the basics. In our training, we dig deeper into the RUN, HIDE, or FIGHT protocol and explore scenarios that are specific to your organization to ensure better preparedness.
We don’t just tell you that you need to be calm in the event of an active shooter incident, we teach you strategies to keep calm. We also teach specific tactics that you should apply when planning for and responding to active shooter situations.
By the end of our training, your employees will be equipped to spot the traits of an active shooter and behavior that could signal a potential for violence at the workplace. They will also know how and when to report suspicious activity.
Most importantly, your employees will know how to protect themselves and others in an active shooter situation and their expected behavior when law enforcement arrives.
The training also includes steps you can take as an organization to prepare for active shooting including having an Emergency Action Plan.
Unlike the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program that focuses on first responders, our program is created for organizations.
The training is for all public and private sector personnel, including those working within education communities like school resource officers, training officers, and security personn