ACTIVE SHOOTER AWARENESS
On Sunday, October 1, 2017, at least 59 people were killed and 527 injured in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire on a music festival crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Although the probability of ever being involved in an active shooter situation is remote, the consequences are extremely high and could result in significant loss of life and severe injuries to numerous individuals. Therefore, it is prudent to be prepared and know what steps to take if you are ever in the presence of an active shooter. The steps in this document can be applied to classrooms, office buildings and open venues with large crowds.
There are three things you need to remember to do in an active shooter situation:
RUN – HIDE – FIGHT
The safest course of action is to run. If you can’t run because the shooter is in your vicinity, the second best course of action is to hide or take shelter in a safe area. The last course of action is to fight. You would fight if confronted by the shooter and there was little chance of escape possible. You would consider this your “last stand” tactics.
Check out this video that was prepared by a group of colleges in Alberta, Canada.
If you hear shots fired you should move to the nearest exit away from the direction of the shooting. Using a stairway is typically a good option; you won’t have to wait for the elevator and the exits typically lead you quickly out of the building. Exit signs point you to the stairway in buildings. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these exits. Although windows are not suitable for egress in some buildings, windows may be preferable escape option. In open outdoor areas, move away from the shooter to the closest exit. Seek areas for cover (objects or areas that can block bullets). Try to move as the gunman pauses to reload ammunition.
Once in a safe area, call 911.
Keep these things in mind while you run:
- The police are on their way – keep your hands visible and follow police commands
- Don’t worry about your personal items – leave them behind and recover them later
- Use your judgment – there may be some debate on what to do, if you believe that that you can run, then you should run!
- Help others if safe to do so – if you can’t help, notify responders that others are in need of help
If running is not possible, then the next best course of action is hiding or sheltering in place. Move to a room, preferably one that is lockable from the inside. Be sure to lock the door and cover any windows if possible. If the door does not have a lock, then do your best to barricade the door. Hide behind large heavy objects than may be able to absorb shots. If in outdoor areas, seek areas for cover (objects or areas that can block bullets). Try to move as the gunman pauses to reload ammunition.
Stay out of the line of site of the shooter, place phones on silent, shut off lights, stay quiet and call 911. Also have someone call the LIM College Emergency Line which is 711 from an internal phone or (212) 310-0660 from an external phone.
Begin developing a plan of attack if the shooter enters your room or area. The plan should include planning your escape. Arm yourself with something you can throw at the shooter or use to attack the shooter.
A note about locked doors: Locked doors are very hard to breach and often require specialized equipment that active shooters do not typically possess.
If it is not possible to run or hide, then you are faced with only a few bad options. You can continue to hide, play dead or fight. Fighting is the best of the bad options. If you are in a locked room, you actually have some tactical advantages! You know the likely point of entry the shooter will take and you know when the shooter is preparing to enter. In outdoor areas, the shooter may be susceptible to attack from behind.
It is best to attack in a large group throwing items, hitting the shooter with heavy items and then getting the shooter to the ground. It is very difficult to shoot and fight once on the ground and engaged in a struggle with several people. Attacks should be meant to swarm, knock down and immobilize the shooter.
Once safe to do so, call 911.
Things to consider when fighting:
- Doors are hard to breach – lock or barricade if possible
- Develop a simple plan as a group and attack as one team
- It’s hard to fight from the ground. Place trip hazards in the line of the shooter and/or make the floor slippery if possible. Swarm, knock down and immobilize the shooter.
Law Enforcement Response
All Law Enforcement Officers are trained to respond to active shooters. They typically respond in a team of 3 to 4 officers with the intent of killing the active shooter. They may have specialized weapons such as shotguns, rifles or handguns. Remember that they are human and are likely scared and filled with adrenaline. Help make their decisions easy by keeping your hands visible, following their commands and avoiding yelling or screaming. Once the scene is secure, emergency medical services will be provided and the building will be evacuated in an orderly manner.
Houston Active Shooter Video