The number of businesses and schools seeking active shooter training is increasing as the frequency of these incidents nationwide has risen over the last 15 years. According to an FBI study, from 2000 to 2006 there was an annual average of 11.4 incidents a year. From 2007 to 2013, there was an annual average of 16.4 incidents.
Sure, your local police department provides an escape strategy and you have an on-site security guard, but this level of security may not be enough. We have to shift the mindset. Instead of “If it’s going to happen,” it has now become “When is it going to happen and am I prepared?”
1. Know the facts. Going by the numbers, the majority of active shooter events happen in the workplace. Next, are schools and then government facilities. Public events such as concerts or church gatherings seem to be the least likely. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking it won’t happen. The highest number of casualties ever (58 killed and 489 wounded) occurred during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2017. The second highest number of casualties (49 killed and 53 wounded) occurred at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016. The third highest number of casualties (26 killed and 20 wounded) occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017. These are less likely, but have been shown to hold the potential to be far deadlier.
2. Don’t wait for something to happen to make changes to your environment. Far too many times we are struck with tragedy and find ourselves playing catchup. Get training. Watch documentaries. Read articles. Do something, anything to make you and your environment a harder target.
3. Create and implement things like escape plans, safe rooms, casualty care protocols, floor leaders, and lock down procedures. Think about your options carefully. Stairwell access, elevators, floors, fire alarms, door locks, windows or glass walls can all affect your response plan. Something like pulling the fire alarm may seem like a great idea, but in reality, this could be a far bigger hazard. Fire alarms unlock all electronic doors, shut down elevators, and cause everyone to blindly run to the closest exit they know of. This gives unrestricted access to the entire building, limits your options to get to lower floors, and creates a target rich environment for the shooter when everyone funnels into the hallway. A shooter is not your typical emergency scenario. This and much more must be taken into consideration when crafting your plans to deal such a threat.
4. Be confident. In many cases, regular people have fought and disarmed their attackers. There are options all around you. At your desk you probably have things like books, pens, a stapler, a coffee mug, your keys, potted plants, a chair, anything hard or pointed that you could use to defend yourself if you had to. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are out of the fight just because you are outgunned. You have the numbers, possibly the element of surprise, and the will to survive on your side.
5. Run, hide, fight. When the situation unfolds, you have 3 options. Your best option is to RUN. Get out of the building or area as fast as
you can. Do it safely. Run from cover to cover if possible. Drop to the ground if you have to. Dive behind a desk or wall if you have to. Anything to put distance between you and the shooter. The next option is to hide. Under your desk, in the closet, in the break room,
wherever. Be quiet and barricade the door. If possible, put signs in the windows to communicate to authorities. Text friends or loved ones to relay information to the police. Things like the number of attackers, types of weapons, your location in the building etc. Try to
avoid places with one way in and out. While it may seem appealing, it may be better to have another option for escape if they make it through the door. Your final option is to fight. Grab a weapon and do not hesitate. This person is here to end your life. You must realize it is now your responsibility to stop them. Nothing is off limits. Gouge eyes, attack the groin, bite, scratch, stab, or punch. Do whatever you can to ensure you are going home tonight.