Active Shooter / Active Attacker
What to do During an Active Shooter (or Active Threat) Situation?
An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases this involves the use of firearms, however, in recent years, there has been an increase in the use of other weapons (e.g. knives, axes, swords, and even vehicles. There is no pattern or method to their selection of victims in most of these incidents. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. They are often over within 10-15 minutes, well before law enforcement arrive on the scene, this is why individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation. This module will help prepare you.
Quickly determine the best way to protect your own life and, if you’re with your family, the lives of your family members. There are three options for you to take; Run, Hide, or Fight. We will go over each so if the time comes you will know what to do
1 Run: If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate. Be sure to:
♦ Have an escape route and plan in mind. This is why you should always know where at least two exits are in any location you are visiting, live or work at.
♦ Look for objects or obstacles that will provide visual concealment from an assailant and cover from gunfire. If you are in a large facility (i.e. an airport, shopping mall, or stadium), always keep in mind objects that can shield you from view and protect you from gunfire (e.g. large support columns, baggage carousels, kiosks, etc.). Plan your movements in these areas to be near these obstacles so that if something happens, you can immediately use these obstacles for lifesaving cover while you quickly move to put distance between yourself and the shooter.
♦ Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow. This is not a time for debate. As explained in earlier modules split seconds matter here. If you choose to escape, move out without hesitation.
♦ Leave your belongings behind.
♦ Help others escape, if possible.
♦ Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
♦ Keep your hands visible; this is in case you run in to first responders while escaping. The first thing law enforcement looks at to determine threats are a person’s hands.
♦ Follow the instructions of first responders.
♦ Do not attempt to move wounded people.
♦ Call emergency services when you are safe.
The next option is to hide, if evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide. Remember if the situation changes you might have to revert back to one of the other responses, so remain flexible.
2 ►Hide: Find a place where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Remember to silence your cell phone, remain quiet and calm, and call emergency personnel if possible. The place you choose should:
♦ Be out of the shooter's view.
♦ Provide protection against shots fired your way. This is where knowing the difference between cover and concealment come in handy. As preppers you know that a hollow core door is not going to stop 5.56mm (.223 caliber) or 7.62mm (.308 caliber) rounds, so find a place that provides substantial cover.
♦ Not trap you or restrict your options for movement, as mentioned above you might have to revert to one of the other options.
♦ Have locks on the door. This is why you should carry a door stop in your bag or backpack, so that you can secure a door if necessary. Stop by our store and pick up a few for you and your loved ones. They make great stocking stuffers!
♦ Have furniture to blockade the door. Use heavy furniture like a desk or filling cabinet.
♦ Learn how to use your belt to lock double doors by wrapping it around the door handles or closer arms and cinching it down tight. This will also prevent opening of doors that use most door closer mechanisms.
♦ If you don’t have time to locate a secure hiding place and the shooter is nearby:
♦ Lock the door
♦ Silence your cell phone or any other electronic device you might have with you. This includes making sure the vibrate mode is off as well.
♦ Turn off any source of noise ( i.e. radios, TV’s, etc.).
♦ Hide behind large items that might also provide cover as well as concealment.
♦ Remain quiet.
If evacuation and hiding are not an option any more, remain calm, dial emergency services to report the situation, and if you cannot speak leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen. The last option is to fight.
3 ►Fight: As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, try to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by:
♦ If you have a weapon, employ it as you were trained
♦ Hand gun
♦ Edged weapon
♦ Non-lethal: taser, pepper spray, etc.
♦ If you don’t have a weapon.
♦ Any heavy object can become a missile that can be thrown or a club that you can swing at the attacker
♦ Do you have a tactical pen? Don’t leave home without one.
♦ Yelling, acting as aggressively as possible, use your “War Face.”
♦ Committing to your actions – if your attacker has reach on you, you have to get inside his advantage.
Now you are prepared to act during an active shooter situation. In the next lesson we will talk about what to do when the first responders arrive.
How to Respond when First Responders Arrive
The first officers on the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial first responders. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises. Law enforcement’s main purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard or reported. This is what to expect when officers arrive:
♦ Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4).
♦ Officers may be wearing regular uniforms with external bulletproof vests, or be in full tactical gear, helmets, goggles, etc.
♦ Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns.
♦ Officers may include bomb squad or K-9 teams.
♦ Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
♦ Officers may shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety. Always comply with the officers’ commands.
Support first responder efforts by doing the following:
♦ Remain calm and follow instructions, avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling.
♦ Put down any items in your hands, raise hands, spread fingers, and keep hands visible at all times.
♦ Avoid quick movements.
♦ Do not cling to emergency personnel.
♦ Do not stop to ask first responders for help or direction when evacuating.
♦ Evacuate in the direction first responders are entering.
♦ Provide first responders with information on active shooter, including; location, number of shooters, descriptions, number and type of weapons, and number of potential victims.
Once you have reached a safe location or assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave the area until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.
Recognizing Potential Workplace Violence
An active shooter in your workplace may be a current or former employee, or an acquaintance of a current or former employee. If you are practicing good situational awareness you may notice characteristics of potentially violent individuals. Employees typically do not just “snap” but display indicators of potentially violent behavior over time. If these behaviors are recognized, they can often be managed and treated. If you notice any of the following potentially violent behaviors by an individual alert your HR department or supervisor. Remember this list of behaviors is not comprehensive, nor is it intended as a mechanism for diagnosing violent tendencies:
♦ Increased use of alcohol and or illegal drugs.
♦ Unexplained increase in absenteeism.
♦ Vague physical complaints.
♦ Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene.
♦ Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures.
♦ Repeated violations of company policies.
♦ Increased severe mood swings.
♦ Noticeably unstable, emotional responses.
♦ Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation.
♦ Suicidal talk, such as comments about “putting things in order” or “making things right.”
♦ Behavior that is suspect of paranoia, “everybody is against me.”
♦ Increasingly talks about problems at home.
♦ Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace.
♦ Talk of severe financial problems.
♦ Talk of previous incidents of violence.
♦ Empathy with individuals committing violence.
♦ Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms or other dangers weapons and violent crimes.
Now you know what to look for and what to do during an active shooter situation your chances of surviving one will go up exponentially. Remember an ounce of prevention is the best cure. You should foster a respectful workplace and be aware of the indicators of workplace violence and take actions accordingly.