ACTIVESHOOTER RESPONSE: RUN , HIDE , FIGHT!
IT’S REALLY HAPPENING.
You hear some small or large pops. It might sound like backfires or a door slamming to the untrained ear. Or, you might hear nothing at all. At first, it might only draw your curiosity instead of your survival instinct.
During those seconds or minutes that you are trying to figure out what is going on, an active shooter could be moving to your location. The average active shooter situation is about 12 minutes long (many, fewer than five), with an average law enforcement response in the neighborhood of 18 minutes. So, being prepared is the first step to getting out alive.
GET TO A SAFE AREA (RUN)
Everyone should always know where exits are. While we might not pay attention as everyday life consumes us, it is an important item to remember on your mental survival list. Know the routes to the various exits, and envision different scenarios in which it might be blocked. In other words: Have an alternate route/plan.
In many office and school active-shooter response plans, there is a predetermined central location for everyone to assemble to get a head count. I don’t think this is a good idea, because often, the active shooter is someone internal to the organization or school and could be familiar with the response plan. It would be
like shooting fish in a barrel to use the assembly area as a focal point to target a confined crowd for maximum injury or kills.
Instead, once you check in, move to a safer area away from the initial shooter’s location. As you move through hallways and stairwells, check first to make sure you are not going to run into the attacker.
BECOME INVISIBLE (HIDE)
If your ability to exit your location is not an option, finding a place to hide will likely be your next choice. Hopefully, you have already thought about this possibility. If not, do it now. Finding a place to hide could include barricading the place you are in. Things to consider are the direction that doors open (if you have doors), the thickness of walls and doors, and if there is anything in your vicinity that will stop bullets.
There are field-expedient methods of barricading, and there are manufactured methods.
FIELD-EXPEDIENT BARRICADES. Using your belt or other material can help to keep an automatic door-closing mechanism from being able to open. You can also use purse or backpack straps. Pushing furniture and other items against a door that opens inward can also stop or slow an active shooter from gaining entry.
MANUFACTURED BARRICADES. Several companies make easyto-install options to keep doors from opening as an addition to locks or in the event there is a door that does not have a lock. Nightlock (www.Nightlock.com), Bilco (www.Bilco.com), Masterlock (www. Masterlock) or BoloStick (www.BoloStick.com) all make a device that can be easily installed that will not significantly change how the door works for everyday use.
COVER OR CONCEALMENT?
When looking for a place to hide, it is important to remember that concealment is not your only concern. If an active shooter is firing randomly, it is possible that even while hidden, you could suffer a direct shot or the impact of debris as a result of shattered material. Finding a location that protects from both of these is important.
Common office, school or shopping items can protect you in this event. Look for solid materials such as concrete planters in a mall, safes or concrete benches.
LAST RESORT (FIGHT)
If you have read this far, you are probably saying to yourself, I would just shoot the active shooter. For most readers, this should be their normal response. Unfortunately, according to the FBI, just 3.1 percent of activeshooter incidents are contained or stopped by an “ordinary” armed citizen. While that number seems small, it is important to remember that most incidents happen where an armed citizen is not allowed: Schools, government buildings and many private businesses don’t allow their employees to arm themselves. As a result, these locations
are the choices of active shooters. It is more likely that unarmed citizens will restrain the shooter (13 percent).
In an active-shooter situation, it might be wiser to get as many people around you to safety and cover their movements than attempt to actively engage. What you need to be aware of is that in an effort to seek out an active shooter, you, yourself, could look like an active shooter to law enforcement and first responders. In addition, unless you are highly trained and have communication with law enforcement, you should remain on the defensive and leave the offensive maneuvers to the professionals … unless actively engaging is your only remaining option.
Here are some additional points to think about if you are forced into an engagement with an active shooter: Be prepared for an assailant wearing body armor; in that case, head shots might be necessary. Look for multiple shooters, and make sure to do a 360-degree check of the area.
There is an advantage to numbers: The more people you have, the easier it is to overwhelm the armed attacker, regardless of whether your people are armed or not. Do not seek out the attacker; this puts you at a disadvantage. Be aware of what is behind the shooter, because while trying to save lives, you would not want to take innocent ones.
In all likelihood, you will never experience an active-shooter event. Nevertheless, you should be prepared: Pay attention to your surroundings, and notice when things are out of place. If you see something, notify someone.
Many post-incident reports confirm confirm that people who came in contact with the soon-to-be shooter before the incident noticed “something different” about the individual. Even so, in many cases, they were afraid to say something out of fear of being labeled as a “racist” or some other name. Nevertheless, we need to take care of each other. It’s the only way we can defeat the bad guys looking to do us harm. GW
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS, AND NOTICE WHEN THINGS ARE OUT OF PLACE. IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, NOTIFY SOMEONE.
People with evil intent interpret signs such as this as really saying, “Beyond this sign are victims who can’t shoot back.”
Shown is a typical school hallway. Notice that there are multiple exits. When running from an active-shooter situation, take notice of exit signs to lead you out and away from the building. Try not to enter rooms that could trap you without an exit. Pictured are the typical tight hallways found in most older office buildings. Look for the exit signs. In this photo, you can also see that there is a fire extinguisher along the right side of the hallway. If you have time, stop and retrieve it. It can be used as a weapon to defend yourself.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2014
Far left: The author demonstrates how to use a belt to prevent opening a door. Restricting the automatic closer prevents the door from opening. Near left: The author demonstrates the use of the Masterlock Dual Function Door Security Bar on an inward-opening door. Easily installed and inexpensive at less than $20, it can be put in place quickly.
The Barracuda defense
system devices are designed to lock down
vertical doors in a matter of seconds in active-shooter situations. Shown here is the Bilco
Barracuda Intruder Defense System that was
designed for inwardswinging doors. (Photo:
The Bilco Company)
In November 2016, Ohio State University students barricaded themselves after an attacker drove his car into students and then chased them with a butcher knife. The campus was alerted for an active-shooter incident and locked down.
Shown here is the Bilco Barracuda Intruder Defense System for outward-swinging doors such as those required in most classrooms due to fire codes. (Photo: The Bilco Company)