5 Tips for Surviving an Active Shooter
Having the ability to save yourself in an active shooter situation starts with understanding what’s going on around you. As we recommend to our clients and students about securing yourself during a flash or crowd situation, understanding your environment is one of the most essential safety and preventative measures you can take in any sort of situation. When entering or facilitating any type of public place, you need to scope out the circumstances. If things seem out of place, or you just “feel” something isn’t right, listen to your instincts.
Part of recognizing your environment, is knowing how to escape quickly if things go south. When your somewhere new, the best practice is to seek out and identify all possible exit points, and formulate escape routes. If things take a turn for the worst, this can mean the difference between death and life. Never overlook this fundamental step. Call it paranoid; or better yet call it constantly being prepared. If you’re in a target rich environment (e.g. concerts, theater, movies, festivals, malls, and so on,) there are a few things to do that can maximize your ability to survive a deadly encounter.
1 – If possible, avoid any events or circumstances that could go bad. No, we’re not talking about minor stuff, were talking about things like taking part in (perhaps you’re a photographer) a large violent protest for example. Granted, there’s no way to predict every situation or event or if it will turn violent. However, there are ways to size up the situation.
2 – Stay AWAY from high profile, charged, or other mass events. Opening events (such as film, or sports,) shows or concerts that are sold out, political rallies, activism rallies/riots, and mega summits are all examples of what to stay away from. The terrorists, active shooters, whack jobs and sickos who commit heinous acts against mankind are looking for three general things: media coverage, high body count (killed and or wounded,) and attention. There’s a few other factors, but those are the main three. This is what makes an incident at a high profile event more likely to occur than not (remember – target rich environment.)
3 – Don’t make yourself a target. If you can’t follow #2 for some reason, then pay close attention to this. If you go to some large-scale event: MAKE CERTAIN you are seated near an exit. Anything other than an exit seat is a very bad day should things take a downward turn (think chaos, trampling / stampeding, and the large crowd bottle-necking at the exits.) In addition, it’s a VERY GOOD idea to NOT DRAW ATTENTION to yourself. You should be a living ghost, you don’t stand out (bright colors are generally not your friend,) you listen – yet aren’t heard, and again – you’re ensuring there’s no obstacles between you and your exit.
4 – Learn to trust your instincts. We all have impulses. Some of us to buy things, some for gambling, and of course there’s fight or flight. The theater shooting in Colorado left survivors recounting how they had a “bad feeling” come over them when the shooter entered (before he began shooting.) Unfortunately they brushed this off, and rationalized their bad feelings about the situation. Sadly, even after the shooting began, a number of survivors stated they believed “it was all part of the show.” If it seems off, if it looks funny, or if your gut tells you that you need to get the hell out – LISTEN and don’t linger around to “see what happens.”
5 – Everything has gone south, and there’s shots fired. There’s a deafening roar. You can hear the shots, mixed with people screaming, buts its all a blur in your ears. You’re now in the midst of an active shooter. Here’s how to maximize your chances of surviving.
RUN Remember all the talk about knowing and planning for your exits. This is why. Escape is the generally the best chance you have to survival. When some dirtbag decides to start shooing innocent people – the last place you want to be is near the source. Unlike TV and video games, these situations are confusing, and highly stressful. When making your exit, try to minimize attracting attention. Once out, keep running away. Once in a safe area, call 911 and relay as much information as possible, sharing the number of shooters, types of weapons, number of injured, and last known location of the shooters.
HIDE For whatever the reason, your escape plan didn’t work. Now you need to find cover. The preferred would be cover that offers concealment, such as behind a large piece of equipment, a concrete wall, or similar object. If you decide to hide behind a chair or table, while it MAY conceal you, if bullets hit the object – they’re going straight through it and into you. This is very important to consider. Concealment offers little protection, while cover offers protection – but may not conceal you.
FIGHT If everything else has failed, and you realize there’s no options left, you have to fight for your life. Many critics will say you should never try to strike or incapacitate an active shooter. The reality is this: If you have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and it’s evident you’re about to be the shooters next victim – you have to do something. In this case its fighting to survive. You can’t freeze up from the terror in that moment. You must
be quick, violent, and decisive to take the shooter down. If you’re armed, you should have trained for a use of force encounter; if unarmed, hopefully you’ve taken some basic defensive classes or martial arts. Even if you don’t fall into either of those categories, if you’re reading this – you still have time! Take some defensive classes in whatever you’re comfortable with. Remember – do whatever you have to do in order to keep the shooter from taking your life.
AFTERWARDS, get to safety, but DO NOT let your guard down. You have to remain vigilant in the case of more than one shooter, ambushes for those fleeing, and a host of other possibilities.
While these incidents are rare, they still happen, and without warning. It is something that you should be prepared for, but not obsess over. Don’t live in fear about the evil that lurks ’round the corner. While you’re able to, we stress proper training at whatever level you’re comfortable with. In an active shooter situation, every second counts; and unless there are officers already on location (security, or some sort of call) the amount of damage that can be unleashed prior to arrival by police or security forces is unfathomable to most people. Because of our twisted society where people seek fame and attention, there’s a growing number of these sickos that will do anything for attention, which sadly includes murdering innocent people.