There are few things more terrifying than the idea of being caught in an active shooter event. Whether it takes place in a school, a shopping mall, an office building or another type of facility, the presence of an individual with a firearm presents the highest level of risk.
In a situation like that, you would be likely to find it difficult to think calmly or make the most sensible decisions about where to go or what to do. Active shooter events are chaotic, full of uncertainty about where the shooter is located, how many shooters there might be and the best way to stay safe. A person’s capacity to make sound decisions during that kind of danger-filled confusion is very much diminished. In the turmoil of the moment, it would be easy to make a mistake that could cost a person their life.
For those reasons, the concept of “Run, Hide, Fight” has been developed. It gives people a fairly simple 1-2-3 process that is easy to remember, even in the fight-or-flight stress of the moment. In this way, Run, Hide Fight can help to save lives during a shooting event. Numerous organizations across the US have adopted this approach, including the majority of Big Ten schools, and it is advocated by the Department of Homeland Security.
The first moments of response after realizing that there is an active shooter on the premises are highly stressful. This should be where training kicks in. By preparing, learning the basics of run, hide, fight and practicing on a regular basis, it’s possible to lessen the threat of an active shooter. Here is what you need to know:
1. Run away from the shooter
If you can get away from the attacker, go. Don’t worry about taking your phone, your purse or any other items with you – just get as far away as you can, as fast as you can. Do help others escape with you, if possible, but keep moving whether or not others agree to follow. Remember that getting away is your top priority. Once you are in a safe location, call 911 or use any panic apps you can access to alert authorities and provide information on the incident.
2. Hide from the shooter
If it is impossible to escape safely, your next best option is to hide from the attacker. You want to become completely invisible so that they do not know you are there. You’ll have already determined potential hiding spots as part of your run, hide, fight training. Now decide quickly which is the best option, and move quickly and quietly into that space. Make sure your phone and any other devices you have are completely silent. Turn off lights and close window blinds and shades. Lock any doors between yourself and the shooter, and get behind whatever solid objects are available. Many articles advocate the use of barricades to keep an attacker out of a safe space. This is a determination you will need to make yourself. Overall, barricades can be a dangerous option since they also make it impossible for first responders to enter the space.
3. Fight the shooter
This is an absolute last resort only. If there is nothing left between you and the attacker – no other option – you can attempt to stop or immobilize them. If you are going to fight, find whatever you can use as a shield or a weapon. Chairs, fire extinguishers, books and other objects can be used or thrown to distract or disable the shooter. Several people working together are more likely to be successful in putting an end to the attack.
Fighting back against a person holding a lethal weapon is extraordinarily dangerous and should only be considered when there is literally no possibility of evading the attacker.
For many people, one advantage of remote learning and working is the temporary respite from concern about on-site incidents of all kinds. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have moved much of their safety focus from protection from attackers to protection from viruses. However, there are still millions of individuals going to work in stores, schools and other facilities where an incident could occur.
If you should be faced with an active shooter event during the pandemic, the principle of run, hide, fight is still valid. Your immediate safety from harm is dependent on your fast action. In this situation, you do not need to worry about social distancing or wearing a mask. If you are not already wearing a mask, do not take the time to put one on. Your life and safety are the most important thing at this moment. Once your situation is secure, you can take the necessary steps to ensure you are following COVID-19 protocols.
Every school, office and facility is unique. Get to know yours. Know where the exits are located, the various routes you can take to each exit, which doors lock etc. At every organization, a team should be set up to create the protocols for an active shooter drill. One individual should be responsible for ensuring the entire population practices run, hide, fight on a regular basis. It could be the School Resource Officer (SRO), a security director or the office manager.
Fortunately, statistics show that the chances you will ever be involved in an active shooter event are extremely small. Still, it is always wise to be prepared. Beyond practicing run, hide, fight, it is essential to have the right technology to communicate with first responders in the event of an active shooter. By taking these important steps, you will be better prepared in case the unthinkable happens.