You are dashing to your next class or out at your favorite grocery store only to hear gunshots.
What’s the next step?
Mass shootings have become common. Close to 578 mass shootings were reported in 2020. With these statistics in mind, it’s essential to prepare and learn what to do if you ever find yourself in an active shooter situation.
FBI came up with a run, hide, or fight strategy to help you know what to do in the event of an active shooter scenario.
Read on to learn more about the three things you need to do.
Note that your preferred protective action will depend on your proximity to the shooter and your location.
There is currently debate as to what defines a mass shooting, however, most interpretations define that a minimum of 3-4 deaths (excluding the shooter) due to gunshot wounds fits the description.
According to the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, a mass shooting is defined as three or more killings in a single gun-related incident.
The first thing you should do when you hear gunshots is to run.
Look at your surroundings whether you’re in a school building, grocery store, bank, or anywhere else. Then, leave immediately and head to the nearest exit.
Avoid collecting all your belongings or running back to get your stuff. Lead anyone who needs help escaping to the exit.
Keep your hands visible so that the police don’t confuse you with an active shooter. Ensure you follow the directions given by law enforcement.
Once you are out of the vicinity and safe, call 911 if the police haven’t arrived. You could provide essential information like the description of the shooter, the number of shooters, the location of the shooter, and the type of weapons in use.
Running is one of the best ways to survive an active shooter scenario as it allows you to escape the dangerous spot in the shortest time. What’s more, running makes it challenging for the shooter to target you. That’s why running is the first best option.
Sometimes running may not be the best option as it could expose you to the shooter. The next best option is to hide.
Identify places that will provide cover and keep you safe in case of an ongoing active shooter situation.
A good hiding spot should keep you out of the shooter’s view and provide cover from bullets. The suitable hiding space needs to be spacious to allow you to run if the situation calls for it.
When inside a building, run to a locked room and block the door with furniture. Turn off the lights and switch off or silence your phone to avoid alerting the shooter. If you find yourself outside, hide in brick walls, parked cars, or any solid barrier that will stop bullets.
Also, avoid running out of your hiding spot because the shooting stopped. The shooter may be reloading and preparing for another attack. Wait for law enforcement or assess the alternatives before deciding on the next action.
Stay in place until you get an all-clear signal from the police.
Fighting should be your last resort to defend yourself from an active shooter.
When you can’t run or hide, fighting back should be the last course of surviving an active shooter situation.
Remember that confronting an armed person can be dangerous, which is why you need to be tactical in how you fight.
Before approaching the shooter, wait for the time he is reloading. Swing a heavy item at them; this could be a chair, scissors, or an extinguisher, and shout as loud as you can to distract and confuse the shooter.
The goal here should be fighting to conquer, meaning that you have to improvise and do whatever is required to save your life and those around you.
Immediately after an incident, you need to wait for the law enforcement officers to escort you out of the building if you’re inside.
Stay calm and remember to follow the officers’ instructions. The law enforcement officers may direct you to a place of safety or shout orders that you need to follow.
Keep your hands visible and avoid making any quick movements towards the police.
Note that the first responding officers’ objective is to stop the shooting and create a safe area for those trapped. The officers who arrive later will check on the victims and determine if they need medical care and other services.
The chances of you finding yourself in an active shooter scenario are minimal.
Nonetheless, these scenarios are unpredictable and a reality that hundreds of people have to deal with every year.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation, one of the key takeaways is to avoid panicking. Instead, stay calm and analyze the situation before deciding on the next course of action. You can choose to run, hide, or fight back, depending on the circumstance. These actions will significantly improve your chances of survival.
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