How to Survive an Active Shooter Situation

Posted by dwallace on September 20, 2016 in Active Shooter |

Before I was a corporate trainer, I was a law enforcement trainer. I worked in both the city and county jails around the St. Louis area for 12 years. So it was a natural choice when my current job asked me to train the Active Shooter Class.

By this point active-shooter scenarios are by no means obscure. It feels like we see them on the news every other week. According to the Dept. of Homeland Security, there were 160 active-shooter situations in the United States from 2000-2013. In the last 3 years we have added to that significantly. But believe it or not, you actually have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being involved in an active-shooter situation.

Would you believe that approximately 250 people are struck by lightning in the US a year? Roughly 48 of those are through direct strikes and around 200 are injured from the lightning hitting something first then hitting the person. Your chances of being struck are about 1 in 3000.  (Now you understand why you shouldn’t play the Power Ball with your chances of winning being about 500,000 times more likely that you’ll be struck by lightning over your lifetime.) I know, it’s still fun to dream about winning.

These weird lightning facts seem to help calm people’s minds about being involved in an active-shooter situations. However out of the 30+ classes that I taught over a 3 week period, I was surprised at how many people said they were in an active-shooter situation. (Although most were robberies, not really active-shooter situations.)

For the one’s in the group who had never experienced gun violence, those people said that they never really thought about what they would do in real-life active-shooter situation.

So in case you fall into that group who’s never thought about it, I’m going to give you the 3 ways to survive an active shooter situation:

  1. Run—and I would add, duck to the ground and look where the shooter is, then run the other way.
  2. If you can’t run, try to HIDE. Preferably somewhere that has a locked door. Try not to trap yourself in. But if you are trapped in and that door opens, be prepared to do the last one, which is…
  3. FIGHT! If you’ve never punched someone in the face before, this would be a good day to give it a try. If you’re not the fighting type, look around for objects that could be used for improvised weapons: water bottles, phones, pens-which can be used like an ice-pick and fire extinguishers.

These are the 3 basic things you need to know to get through the situation. Your main thought should be, “I’m getting the hell out of here alive. I’m getting to a door now!”

Below is a link to the video that I showed in all my classes. It’s only about 5 minutes long. It was produced by Homeland Security and the City of Houston. I will warn you that there is some simulated violence, but once the shots are over, the rest of the video is about how to react in an active-shooter situation.

Please take the time to watch the video and then I want you to think about your own job. Do you know where all the exits are? In most cases, 83% of people will go out the door they came in. Do you know where the side and back doors are?

Start paying attention to where the other doors are when you enter somewhere like a movie theater or a restaurant. Remember, there is always an exit through the kitchen. Don’t believe me? Let me ask you, unless you were at McDonald’s, when was the last time you saw the bus-boy bringing trash through the dining room?  (There’s always a backdoor or loading dock area. Usually two guys will be sitting there smoking a cigarette. Run past them.)

Again, I want you to start thinking about exits when you go out somewhere. Just because you parked on one side of the mall, doesn’t mean you have to go that way to get out. I want you to tell yourself that you will get out if you had to.

And remember your 3 options: Run, Hide, Fight!

Here’s the video. (Click the link if you are receiving this through email.)



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