In 2012, the United States has seen two tragic active shooting scenarios: the Dark Knight shooting in Colorado and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Both of these heartbreaking incidents have shattered the notion that we are safe while in public spaces, leading people to ask: how safe are we? Although it is the government’s task to ensure public safety, everyone should know how to respond in case of an active shooter scenario and ensure their own personal safety.
Active shooter scenario occurs when one armed individual or groups intentionally cause serious harm or death to the public. In most cases, the shooter does not select the victim, shooting or inflicting pain in a random manner on strangers.
While it is impossible to predict when a shooting incident can happen, there are a number of things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Take note that shooting incidents occur very quickly and require immediate response from law enforcement authorities to stop it. Here are some things you can do to ensure your personal safety.
If the shooting occurs inside the building:
- Quickly survey the scene. If it safe to leave, do so.
- If it is not safe, stay inside the room and lock or barricade all doors.
- Close the windows or blinds quickly, and then move away.
- Stay behind heavy objects.
- Turn off radios, lights, and computer monitors.
- Keep out of sight.
- Put mobile phone in silent mode.
- Call 911 for help. Provide information about your location, number of people in custody, any injuries sustained and brief description of the assailant/s. You may also need emergency medical assistance.
- Stay in a secured area unless you are sure the assailant has been contained by the police.
- If you encounter law enforcement agents, raise your hands and follow their instructions carefully. They may not be aware who the assailant is.
If the shooting occurs outside:
- Run to a nearby building, enter a room and lock the doors.
- Drop anything that may slow you down.
- Use available heavy objects (e.g. vehicle, tree, mailbox) to cover and hide from the shooter.
- If you are caught in an open area, drop to the ground and lay flat. Do not move until the assailant has been contained or has left.
- Call 911 for help. You may also need emergency medical assistance.
- Provide description of the gunman and his whereabouts or direction of travel.
When the police arrives:
- Listen and follow the instructions of the police officers carefully.
- Raise your hands so they are visible at all times.
- Avoid touching or disturbing anything at the scene of incident.
- Wait for further instructions from the public safety personnel or police officers before leaving the area.
- You may be called in to stand as witness to the crime and may be required to provide information about the incident.
Learn more about scene assessments and providing care for victims by taking workplace approved first aid programs available through credible providers. In these scenarios it is important to know how to treat for shock, stay safe and to manage injured patients.