With the continuing instances of active shooter situations in the U.S., it is increasingly important for all of us to be AWARE or our surroundings at all times. That does not mean we need to be afraid, just AWARE.
Awareness of surroundings means many things, including: Being aware of drivers texting instead of watching where they are driving.
Being aware of kids playing ball near the street.
Being aware of the driver who does not see the light change.
Being aware of unknown individuals apparently soliciting in your neighborhood.
Being aware of the emergency exits in a movie theater or restaurant in case of fire.
Even being aware of where rest rooms are, just in case.
Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers When you visit a building such as a shopping mall or healthcare facility, school or church, take time to identify two nearby exits. Get in the habit of doing this. With that awareness ingrained by making it a habit, in an active shooter situation, the three things all agencies recommend and in the order they should be considered are:
RUN: Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority. Leave your things behind and run away. If safe to do so, warn others nearby.
HIDE: If you cannot get away safely, find a place to hide. Hide in an area out of the shooter’s view. Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors. Stay very quiet. Silence your cell phone and/or pager
FIGHT: As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger. Attempt to incapacitate the shooter. Act with physical aggression and throw items at the shooter.
WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT ARRIVES: Remain calm and follow instructions. Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets). Raise empty hands and spread ﬁngers. Always keep hands visible. Avoid quick movements toward ofﬁcers such as holding on to them for safety. Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling. Do not stop to ask ofﬁcers for help or direction when evacuating. Remember responding police officers first responsibility is to get to the shooter, not assist victims.
There are a number of websites for more information on how to survive an Active Shooter Situation. READY.GOV has a lot of good information, including short videos. There are many resources available to help organizations plan for all hazards, including active shooter situations. If your organization wants assistance, please contact me for more information.
Jim Hardy Public Safety Chair, NPU-F