How to Act During an Active Shooter Situation

Gun violence has become rampant in the US, exposing innocent civilians to the risk of getting shot. 2021 saw the highest number of active shooter cases. Statistics from an FBI report show 61 active shooters with 103 casualties. The number is 97% higher than the 2017 incidences.

A lot of confusion and chaos ensues once a gun sound goes off in public. Panic and anxiety leave everyone scrambling for safety or reacting to the fear of anticipation. The body launches the flight, fight, or freeze mechanism to defend itself from external danger. A person can utilize this natural defense response to stay safe.

How can someone make the fight, flight, or freeze response work favorably during an active shooter situation?

Situational Awareness

According to the Department of Homeland Security, situational awareness is an essential skill to possess. Situational awareness is the ability to collect critical information about your environment to give you a chance to avoid harm or to see it coming. Situational awareness works in tandem with swift decision-making.

Observe the environment, make quick deliberations based on your assessment and do the following:

  • Identify exits – the first thing to do when entering a building is to note the nearest doorways leading out of the building.
  • Observe without staring at suspicious people or situations. Maintain a safe distance or leave the place if there are signs of danger.
  • Instincts are crucial – trust that uneasy feeling or gut instinct about a place, person, or situation.
  • Limit distractions by staying alert – do not let the disarray become a hindrance to acting.

Actions to Take

Once done with assessing the situation and surroundings, a person can use the information to protect themselves during an incident. Here are some examples:

  • Be in the moment – do not zone out. Notice the scale of the situation. Where the gunfire is coming from, where the commotion is heading.
  • Run to the nearest exit – if the coast is clear, stay out of harm’s way by evacuating to the closest way out. Call 911 once there is an assurance of safety.
  • Hide in an enclosed space – if the shooter is nearby, look for a place to hide. Stay in the office and lock the door.
  • Avoid hallways and open spaces.
  • Stay quiet and avoid movements while hiding out. Put your mobile phone on silent to avoid drawing attention to yourself.
  • If someone gets hurt in the active shooter incident, get them to a safe place first before offering help.
  • Self-care is essential to survive the ordeal. Keep a positive outlook while hiding. Keep hope alive until it is over.
  • Fight as a last resort. Disrupt and ambush the attacker only after assessing their armory. Recruit other strong civilians and use makeshift weapons to weaken the shooter’s defenses like a fire extinguisher, scissors, or chair. Be mentally prepared to cause harm to the attacker.
  • Once the incidence is over, seek professional counseling to overcome mental anguish from the ordeal.

What to do When the Police Arrive

Once the authorities arrive, listen and obey their instructions, as follows:

  • Maintain calmness and follow police instructions during an evacuation.
  • Place your hands in a visible location and keep them empty as the authorities assess the situation.
  • Provide any helpful information once the rescue mission is complete.

Contact Us

At EMR Safety and Health, we provide training to enable people to stay safe during an active shooter incident. Contact us at 800-595-6110 to find out more.