In less than 24 hours, our Nation saw two mass shootings this month. As shooters opened fire in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the world sat back and watched yet another active shooter situation unfold in the United States. Tragically, the El Paso shooting was the 249th mass shooting of 2019.

It may be unclear where we go from here. It seems like we face more and more tragedy as we try to prevent violence throughout the world. While you may not personally be able to do anything to change the way of the world right now, there are some things you can control. Educating yourself on how to stay safe is one way to control what’s going on around you. It may not be a sure thing, but at least you’ve done your part in preventing yourself and your family from falling victim to a random act of violence.

Hopefully, you’ll never need these tips for how to handle an active shooter situation, but at least you’ll be prepared if you find yourself in the middle of an attack. Read on for more information about your options and what you can do to stay safe.

Responding to an Active Shooter

Mass shootings are complicated situations. When a volatile individual has the mental capacity to open fire on innocent victims, there is no telling what might happen. Handling an active shooter situation takes precise planning and extraordinary coordination and cooperation from several different agencies. To diffuse and clean up an active shooter situation, it really takes a united front from all the emergency response agencies involved.

There is no one-size-fits-all response to these types of emergencies. There also is no telling how you may respond when you’re faced with a scenario as traumatic as an active shooter situation. However, we can present a general concept of how you can best respond if you find yourself in the middle of this type of event.

The most common general concept emergency responders suggest to help you survive an active shooter attack is “run, hide, fight.” The concept is known worldwide by emergency responders to be the most effective way to protect yourself if you find yourself near an active shooter. Let’s break it down in general, then take a closer look at each of the steps you can take to stay safe.

  1. If a safe path is available, run to safety, and help others along the way.
  2. If you can’t remove yourself from the situation safely, find a safe place to hide. Lock the doors. Barricade yourself. Then remain silent, but call for help if possible.
  3. If there is no safe way out and nowhere to hide, fight! Use whatever weapons you have available to fight your attacker aggressively as a last resort.

1.          Run

If an active shooter is in your vicinity, be prepared physically and mentally to run. If possible, scan the area for an escape route. Escape routes and plans can be created in advance, especially if you are in a scenario where there are a lot of people. Map out the closest exits or safest way out should an emergency occur.

If you are faced with an active shooter scenario, don’t worry about your belongings. Leave them behind. Evacuate whether those around you agree to follow you or not. Your priority should be to protect yourself. Help others escape, if possible, but only after you’re sure you can be safe. Don’t attempt to move anyone who has been wounded. Prevent others from entering an area from which you are escaping. Keep your hands visible as you go and call 9-1-1 when you are safe. Never assume that someone else has made the call.

2.          Hide

If there is no safe way out, you need to try to find an area to hide. Make sure it is a place that is out of the shooter’s view. Lock the door or block the entry to your hiding place. The stronger a barricade you can create to keep you safe, the less likely an active shooter will worry about trying to get to you.

Silence your cell phone and remain quiet. This includes keeping your cellphone off vibration mode. You don’t want to do anything that might draw attention to you and your location. Call 9-1-1. Even if you don’t speak, 9-1-1 operators can pinpoint your location and track the GPS coordinates of your emergency.

3.          Fight

If there’s no way out and nowhere to hide, it’s time to fight. This should be your absolute last resort. You should only fight when you feel your life is in imminent danger. If you come face to face with an active shooter, attempt to incapacitate them. Act with as much physical aggression as you can.

If you have no weapons, try to improvise with things like pens, fire extinguishers, or hot coffee. Anything you can find that you can throw at the active shooter or use to knock them out, go for it. Commit to your actions once you decide to fight. Your life depends on it.

What to Expect When Help Arrives

In addition to the life-saving strategies we listed above, it’s essential to know what to expect when help arrives. If you have barricaded yourself or are hiding, do not come out at the first sign of help. This could be the active shooter trying to trick you.

It’s important to understand that the first officers to arrive on the scene will not stop to help the injured. Rescue teams will follow the initial officers. It is the rescue teams that will treat and remove the wounded. The role of the first officers to arrive is to clear the scene and be sure everyone is safe. Their main goal is to get the active shooter into custody.

Once you have reached a safe location, expect to be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control. They will need to take time to identify and question witnesses. Do not leave until you have been instructed to do so by a member of law enforcement. It’s important to fully cooperate with them at this time to assist the best outcome for all involved.

Of course, we don’t want to have to bring you tips and life-saving tactics to help you survive an active shooter situation. Unfortunately, these things are important to know in today’s society if you want to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. For more information on how to handle emergencies, you can trust Seymour EMS to bring you the latest tips, preventative tactics, and educational resources you need to stay safe!