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5 Elements of an Effective Active Shooter Survival Training Program

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People in the world today face many threats. Some of them are natural, like wildfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Others are biological, which we’ve learned all too well with the quick-moving spread of the novel coronavirus now known as COVID-19. But there remains another type of threat that we must also continue to protect ourselves against: the active shooter.

Between 2000 and 2018, there were 277 active shooter incidents according to data collected by the FBI. Combined, this resulted in 2,430 casualties, 884 of which were deaths. Some of the most memorable include the shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, which killed 58 and wounded 489, and the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which resulted in 102 casualties (49 dead and 53 wounded).

The question you need to ask yourself is whether you and your team would know what to do if you looked up right now and could see an active shooter walk through your door. If your answer is “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”—which is often the case—active shooter survival training can provide all of you the tools necessary to create an effective, and potentially life-saving response. What does an effective active shooter survival training program look like?

#1 – It Increases Awareness Without Increasing Fear

Increasing awareness without increasing fear requires that the program’s instructors provide information in a manner that educates participants versus just scaring them.

Yes, some of the details provided in this type of training may institute a certain level of fear, but some fear is healthy. It’s more a matter of striking a balance so participants understand the risks that exist in active shooter situations, but not so scared that everyday actions like grocery shopping, going to work, and having dinner with friends instigates a feeling of panic and dread.

#2 – It Leaves Participants Feeling More Confident

An effective active shooter survival training program also leaves participants feeling more confident, more self-empowered that, if faced with an active shooter, they know how to respond.

That’s the goal of any type of training, right? To provide the tools you need to develop an effective response? An active shooter survival training program is no exception. Participants should be able to walk out of that training knowing exactly what to do.

And the response should be easy to remember in a high-stress situation. For instance, we use the acronym A.L.I.V.E.—Assess, Leave, Impede, Violence, and Expose—to help participants easily recall the steps they should follow during active shooter response.

#3 – It Puts Participants First

When choosing an active shooter survival training program, it’s also important to choose one that puts the participants first. What does this mean?

Putting participants first involves creating a safe environment in which to learn and train, but also remembering that each participant may respond to the information provided differently.

Active shooting survival training can inspire a variety of mental health responses. Some participants may feel sad about the information provided; others might notice that they feel angry. A good instructor is aware of this and will tailor the program accordingly.

#4 – It Offers Numerous Scenarios to Consider

If there’s one thing we know from past active shooter incidents, it is that they can literally occur anywhere.

We’ve seen active shooters in businesses, schools, places of worship, and government buildings. We’ve also seen them at entertainment venues, shopping malls, wide-open outdoor spaces, and more.

An effective active shooter survival training program helps participants think about all of these venues. Taken one step further, it also asks them to create scenarios in each one to effectively formulate a potentially life-saving response.

#5 – It Calls for Regular Training and Practice

On December 1, 1958, a fire at a grade school in Chicago, Illinois took 95 lives, 92 of which were children. Because of this, schools across the nation now regularly practice fire drills. The result? According to the National Fire Protection Association, there have been no other school-related fires that have claimed 10 or more deaths. This highlights the value of regular practice.

Some active shooter incidents have taken an almost inconceivable number of lives. FBI data reveals that, in 2018, the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 14 students, two coaches, and a teacher. The shooter at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania took another 11 lives. In total, 85 people lost their lives that year to active shooters. Another 128 were wounded.

Regular practice of active shooter drills may not be able to save all lives, but—like with school fire drills—it can help reduce the numbers. When each number represents someone’s wife, husband, parent, child, sibling, family member, and friend—those are the numbers that matter most.

We institute training every single day to give employees the ability to succeed, to help children become better in their sports of choice, and to help our members reach a higher level of personal and professional development. When choosing a program that could potentially save lives, it’s important to select one that provides these five elements. A.L.I.V.E. is one.

About A.L.I.V.E. Active Shooter Survival Training

A.L.I.V.E. stands for Assess, Leave, Impede, Violence, and Expose – the five steps that can help individuals more effectively respond if confronted with an active shooter. Programs are available in person as well as online, enabling you to choose the option that best suits your needs.

A.L.I.V.E. also offers active shooter survival training customized for your individual group. Whether you’re in government, education, health care, religion, or real estate, our instructors are here to help. Contact us today to discuss how A.L.I.V.E. can help you create an effective active shooter response.


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