Active shooter incidents have become more frequent and unpredictable in recent years. They can occur in any crowded place, such as marketplaces, shopping malls, workplaces, schools, or universities. For example, on May 24th, 2022, an elementary school in Texas witnessed the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history. Therefore, it is vital to have active shooter preparedness and know how to handle such emergencies. Proper training can enable you to defend yourself and others in a crisis and increase your chances of survival.
1. Be aware of your surroundings – A simple but important step to ensure your safety is to be aware of your surroundings. In places that you visit frequently, such as workplaces, schools, colleges or universities, or even public venues, pay attention to the entry points and exits of the place. You should also know where to hide or take shelter if an active shooter incident occurs. Being alert can help you to identify early signs of danger and act quickly to save your life and others.
2. Follow the ‘Run, Hide or Fight’ method – The ‘Run, Hide or Fight’ method is a common strategy for dealing with active shooting scenarios. To follow this method, you need to assess your situation first. The first response should be to run and escape the scene if it is possible and safe to do so. If you know the escape routes and can access them easily, it is the best decision to run and help others to escape as well. Encourage everyone to leave their belongings behind and not waste time trying to pack them up. In situations like these, saving lives is the priority and even a few seconds of delay can be fatal.
As soon as you reach a safe zone, you should inform the police and emergency services about the situation. If your situation does not allow running, then the next best thing to do is to hide yourself. Try to find a place to hide, lock or barricade the entry points, silence your electronic devices, and turn off the lights in the place, thus denying the shooter any access to you. The last resort should be to fight back. If running or hiding is not feasible, then you may have to choose to fight back. This is where active shooter preparedness or training is extremely helpful. Active shooter training programs teach you how the average person might realistically take down a gunman. Knowing this will give you more confidence to fight and increase your chances of survival.
3. Try To Stay Calm And Act Wisely – This might sound difficult to do but in emergencies, It is important to keep your nerves calm. Being panic-stricken can hinder your thought process and make you take hasty decisions that can cause more trouble for you and put you in more dangerous situations. Try to stay composed and take wise decisions by analyzing your situation. Your main aim should be to stay safe until help arrives.
4. Try to prepare a plan – If you are trapped in an active shooting incident where running or hiding is not possible, you might need to fight back. Do not do so in a hurry. Try to pertain to the emergency protocols of your workplace or school. If you are in a crowded place try to use numbers to your advantage. Communicate effectively with your coworkers or classmates. Try using available objects as weapons. Use your strength in numbers and focus on surprising and taking down the shooter and disarming him.
5. Try to keep a bleeding control kit in hand – Remember that when the immediate emergency response team arrives, their primary concern is to arrest the shooter and ensure safety. They are usually not much equipped to treat the injured ones. However, all workplaces or schools have first-aid kits, in case of active shooter incidents that might not be enough. It insists your school and workplace have a bleeding control kit. Also, keep one with yourself if possible.
Active shooter incidents are certainly unfortunate, but as their rate of occurrence has increased, it is important to have active shooter preparedness. Active shooter training programs provide mock active shooter scenarios to provide hands-on training to combat such situations. It is important to stay aware and prepared for self-defense and also for helping in evacuation if possible. It is important to change mindsets from passive victims to active survivors.
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