With the unfortunate increase in active shooter events, various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, have taken steps to help educate the public on how to increase their chances for survival if faced with an active shooter event.
An active shooter is a person who appears to be actively engaged in harming or attempting to harm people in a populated area — typically employing the use of firearms. In some cases active shooters use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices (IED) to cause additional victimization and act as an impediment to law enforcement and emergency services responders. There may be no pattern or method to their selection of victims
Before the incident
- Make a plan with your family, and ensure everyone knows what they would do, if confronted with an active shooter.
- If you see something, say something to an authority right away.
- Sign up to receive local emergency alerts and register your work and personal contact information with NIXLE, by texting 27360 to 888777.
- Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
- Look for the two nearest exits anywhere you go, and have an escape path in mind & identify places you could hide.
- Understand the plans for individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs
During the incident
RUN and Escape, if possible.
- Get away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority.
- Leave your belongings behind and get away.
- Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
- Warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
- Call 911 when you are safe, and describe shooter, location, and weapons.
HIDE, if escape is not possible.
- Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet.
- Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate.
- Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights.
- Don’t hide in groups- spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter.
- Try to communicate with police silently through text message or social media- so they know geo-tagged location, or by putting a sign in a window.
- Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
- Your hiding place should be out of the shooter’s view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
FIGHT as an absolute last resort.
- Commit to your actions and act as aggressively as possible against him/her.
- Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc. to distract and disarm the shooter.
- Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.
- Throw items and improvise weapons.
After the incident
- Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
- Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4)
- Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
- Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
- Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
- Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety
How to react when law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions
- Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
- Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
- Keep hands visible at all times
- Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety
- Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operator:
- Location of the active shooter
- Number of shooters, if more than one
- Physical description of shooter/s
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
- Number of potential victims at the location
The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises. Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so
Remain calm, do as the officers tell you, and do not be afraid of them. Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times; if you know where the shooter is, tell the officers.