Last month tragedy stuck close to home with the active shooter incident at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. In speaking with friends and family about the incident, one theme always comes up: how could this happen here? We don’t think of ourselves as living in some troubled part of the world or a big city that would seem to make sense as a target. Ours is a safe and quiet community. Sure, we have problems, but the targeting of innocent children in a school is beyond comprehension for most of us.
We urge you to reflect on this horrific act and use it as an opportunity to have a discussion with your family and coworkers about what you would do, if you found yourself in this situation. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with an active shooter.
- Take any report of an active shooter seriously! Even if you are in an environment that has a plan and conducts rehearsals, treat each report as the real thing. Don’t waste valuable time to take pictures or videos as this could be precious time lost in saving yourself or loved ones.
- Remember, an active shooter situation can happen anywhere. Talk with your family and come up with a plan. Make sure everyone knows where to go and how to get into contact if you get separated.
- RUN. Hearing gunshots or a report of an active shooter at your location is not the time to look for the trouble. Flee the area as soon as you sense the danger or hear the reports. Leave bags, purses, or anything that will slow you down. Don’t stop to pick up items you drop. The key to surviving this type of situation is getting out of the area as quickly as possible.
- HIDE. If you cannot run away then hide. Pay attention to your environment locate any possible exits or places to hide. Hide in rooms that are away from the shooter and can be secured somehow. Make it difficult for the shooter to gain entry by locking doors and placing obstacles in front of the door. Be quite, shooters will be attracted to noises such as people talking, crying or moving around. It is especially important to silence your cell phone.
- FIGHT. As a last resort, you must be prepared to defend yourself. If you are forced to fight, be aggressive and committed to your actions. Remember, just about anything can be used as a weapon or to distract the shooter. Fire extinguishers, garbage can lids, and heavy objects such as paper weights are all examples of improvised weapons.
For more information on how to deal with an active shooter situation please check out https://www.dhs.gov/private-citizen.