Active Shooter Survival Tips
There were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.
Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
Awareness, training and rehearsal of the following immediate actions will go a long way to increase the odds of surviving an active shooter incident.
Tactics: Immediate Actions: RUN, HIDE, FIGHT!
RUN. Have an escape route and plan in mind. Move away from the assailant immediately, keep your hands visible. Leave your belongings behind. If the assailant is active inside a specific building, move immediately to a safer location away from the assailant, only if it is safe to do so. If you find yourself in an open area, immediately seek protection:
- Put something between you and the assailant.
- Consider trying to escape, if you know where the assailant is and there appears to be an escape route immediately available to you.
- If in doubt, find the safest area available and secure it the best way that you can.
Active Shooter Scenario Advice
When at sporting events, concerts, and the movies, choose seats that give you a tactical advantage always. What do I mean? Choose seats that allow good and easy vantage points and a hasty exit point. Always stack the odds in your favor. It’s the reason I still “combat park” (back in to a space), and sit with my back to the wall when I’m eating.
Take cover and not concealment. Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall.
Don’t lie there with your eyes closed and get shot. Think and move. In these situations you have to take charge and get in the mindset of self-rescue. You cannot wait for first-responders — it takes too long. A good decision executed quickly is better than a great one never executed. Violence of action, as it is called in the Spec Ops community, will often change the odds in your favor.
When doing close quarter combat drills in the SEALs, they draw a gun with someone over 20 feet away running at them. In most cases you can be on someone before they can draw and take a shot. I’m not advocating running straight at someone, but if you have the tactical advantage (jam, re-loading, distraction or the shooter isn’t paying attention) then take the shooter down or get out of there. Remember that a moving target is extremely hard to hit, even for the well-trained shooter. Deal with the situation with your eyes wide open.
Active Shooter Snapshot
1) There is no one demographic profile of an active shooter.
2) Many active shooters display observable pre-attack behaviors, which, if recognized, can lead to the disruption of the planned attack.
3) The pathway to targeted violence typically involves an unresolved real or perceived grievance and an ideation of a violent resolution that eventually moves from thought to research, planning, and preparation.
4) A thorough threat assessment typically necessitates a holistic review of an individual of concern, including historical, clinical, and contextual factors.
5) Human bystanders generally represent the greatest opportunity for the detection and recognition of an active shooter prior to his or her attack.
Active Shooter: Prepare Your Mind Prior To An Active Shooting Event
It is extremely important that we each go through “Mental Rehearsals”, meaning, rehearsing potential situations and actions to be taken “Just in Case” or “in the event of” the possibility that you find yourself in the middle of an Active Shooter scenario. Ask yourself questions. “What would I have done? What could I have done? What may have been my options during that event? What would I have felt like? Would I have frozen with fear? Would I have ran? Would I have charged the shooter? Would I have taken a bullet for a pregnant lady?
How would you convince random strangers in the same area as you to rush an attacker?
It’s probably not going to happen; most people panic in this type of situation because they never prepared for the possibility. The best you can hope for is yelling “GET HIM!!!” or something like that and hoping others instinctively follow.
What if there is more than one shooter? What should I do differently?
More than one shooter definitely changes the equation, but again these things happen so fast that you really aren’t going to have the opportunity to change things up. You will have to be more aware of where the shooters are, but in general your options are about the same; escape if you can, fight back if you have no other options.
If you had to hunker down how would you signal the outside world for help?
If you can quickly dial 911, without taking your eyes off the danger, then yes. And remember, when hunkering down there’s a difference between cover and concealment. You need to take cover behind something that’s actually going to stop a bullet. Real life is not like the movies, and things like chairs, cars, etc. are not going to stop a bullet.
What should you teach kids to do if there is a shooting at their school?
I would tell them the same things as I would an adult; your best chance is to escape. I don’t care what policy the school has in place, if they tell your kids to shelter in place inside a classroom they are wrong, and I would have some serious doubts about sending my kid to that school.
Make sure your child knows where the escape routes are, and if possible download a map of the school and show them where to go.
How do we increase our level of Situational Awareness to be able to detect danger?
Part of it is just starting to make a conscious effort to look at your surroundings on a daily basis.
Take note of the types of people that are around you, what they are wearing, what your environment normally looks like, etc… that way if something odd happens you will instantly recognize that things aren’t right. And don’t be afraid to trust your gut, we have these feelings for a reason.
If you have kids, point things out to them when you’re out in public. Teach them what to watch out for, where exits are when you enter a business, and encourage them to look around at the world. Make them put down the electronic devices! If your face is staring at your phone you’ll never see anything!
What are some areas/events to avoid if you want to minimize your chances of being a victim of a mass shooting?
- Avoid opening night events or premiers.
- Avoid politically charged ralliesor anything that has a planned protest around it.
- Avoid high profile events like championship games games.
What big mistakes are we told to do by the media and authorities if we are faced with this type of situation?
The biggest mistakes, or downright lies and misinformation spread by the media, include telling people to shelter in place, and not mentioning the importance of carrying your own firearm protection. The simple fact is, these shooters want easy victims, and there is no way the police are going to be able to respond in time to save you. You can be a sitting duck, or you can even the playing field and give yourself a fighting chance.
Active Shooter Situations are a cold, hard reality in modern day life. We need to face this reality and prepare for it like any other.
If possible, experts say the best way is to run away from the threat.
“Running should be your first and foremost response to any situation, but run with a purpose or trying to get away. Knowing where the danger is coming from because if you just start running you may run right into the danger,” MPO Nieves commented.
However, in certain situations it may be better to remain in place and try to avoid detection.
“If you’re caught outside and you can take cover, such as the engine block of a vehicle or some type of brick masonry structure or fence, hide that way but with the mentality that you want to keep moving when the person reloads or the person moves or stops shooting so you can get out of that danger,” MPO Nieves explained.
The last option, though the least preferable, is to fight the shooter with whatever means necessary.
“Fight is basically the last hope, if you have no other choice. We prefer that you run away or take good hiding where you can not only conceal yourself but cover where bullets can’t penetrate.”
Security experts say its important to think about what you would do before getting into a situation, with critical seconds saved by knowing how you would react.
“I don’t count it as being paranoid, I think it’s more preparedness and making a plan – it’s too late to make a plan when it’s happening,” MPO Nieves reiterated.
These questions and a hundred more will help to prepare you to better survive an Active Shooter event.