It seems like you cannot turn on the television or open a newspaper today without seeing a story about a mass shooting, also referred to as an “active shooter.” This is when someone enters a location or event and begins shooting innocent victims. Many people feel powerless during these events, but that does not have to be true. There are things you can and should do in response to these kinds of deadly encounters. This article is the first of a three-part series addressing what you should do if you find yourself facing an active shooter event.
The first course of action for almost every person who is faced with this deadly situation is to ESCAPE! This means RUN, RUN, RUN! Your ultimate goal should be to escape the event area and run to a safe location. There is nothing cowardice about running. You could be the key to the event ending quickly. By escaping immediately, you will be able to call 911 and tell first responders about where you are and what you saw. Think of it this way, when you fly on an airplane, they always tell you about placing your oxygen mask on before helping others, even a child. It is well known that if you do not have a supply of oxygen, you may pass out and then you cannot help anyone else. This is the same principal for escaping and calling 911. Once you are safe, you can then help others, by providing event-specific information to responding professionals.
Please bear in mind that when you are escaping the area, do not stop to collect personal property. This will create unnecessary delays. You should also not waste time trying to convince others to run with you. Tell them to run and keep moving. The time you spend trying to convince someone to run with you may give the shooter time to acquire you as the next target of opportunity. Get out and run to safety. Once you are safe, immediately call 911 and tell them what you saw and heard. Stay on the phone with 911 to keep them updated on any changes or additional information that becomes available.
Unfortunately, it is possible that you will not be able to escape and this is something I will cover in part two of this series.