How to stay safe in the event of an active shooter incident

More than a hundred mass shooter events were recorded in the United States in 2016, according to www.Gunviolencearchive.org. Nowadays it has become almost commonplace for people at work and in public places to find themselves in danger of being shot by one or more suspects seeking the limelight for a variety of reasons by destroying others. One of those situations happened very close to those I love.

The shooting in San Bernardino in 2015 happened a couple of miles from my son and his family’s home. Suddenly my daughter-in-law found herself along with my grandchildren in a lockdown situation. Not knowing where the suspects had fled, the word went out from the police department to “lock your doors and shelter in place.” Due to his job, my son already had his concealed and carry permit but he was at work, far from home. After that incident my daughter-in- law applied and obtained her conceal and carry permit as she never wanted to feel that helpless again.

I was reminded of all this as Annie Ashby, who is a member and Anza’s Citizens Patrol shared information about how to prepare yourself in case of and what to do in an active shooting event with the Thimble Club ladies. This was something she had just learned about at a sheriff’s meeting. The sheriff asked her if she would share the information with others. The pamphlet she shared at the meeting can be found online at the Homeland Security site www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/active_shooter_booklet.pdf.

According to the brochure, “An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. 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.”

So, what should you do in the event of an active shooter situation?

First, be sure to dial 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. If you can’t talk to the emergency dispatcher, then set the phone down and leave the line open so they can hear what is happening and remain calm.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are three steps that can be taken in an active shooter situation, evacuate, hide out or if the other two aren’t possible and your life is in danger, then fight back.

Evacuate is self-explanatory, should you be faced with an active shooter situation, get out if you safely can.

According to DHS, you should have an escape route and plan in mind and evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow. Leave your belongings behind and help others escape, if possible.

If evacuation isn’t an option, then you should find a place to hide. Your hiding place should be out of the active shooter’s view, provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door) and should not trap you or restrict your options for movement. To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place, don’t forget to lock the door and blockade the door with heavy furniture if any is available. Be sure to silence the ring tone on your cellphone and remain quiet, hiding behind something if you can.

You should only fight back if your evacuation or hiding out is not possible and your life is in “imminent danger,” according to DHS. Act as aggressively as possible against him or her, throw items and improvise weapons, yelling and committing to your actions could all help to save your life. Remember, when the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him or her.

Other pointers to avoid an active shooter situation from the DHS include, being aware of your surroundings at all times and make sure you take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.

Watch the next AVO for Part two that will discuss: What to do when the police come after an active shooter event?

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