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The Ins and Outs of Active Shooter Protection

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Over the course of only a few years, we’ve seen a massive increase in active shooter situations. Even though it’s a harrowing experience, there are a lot of guidelines on active shooter protection that could help save your life and of those around you.

Today, we’re going to break down all the strategies, methods, tips, and tricks that will help you plan better and protect yourself and your client. 

During an Active Shooter Situation

When you encounter an active shooter, there’s one simple motto to remember: Run. Hide. Fight. We’re going to break down exactly what it means, but if you want to get out safely, you need to commit these things to memory.

1. Evacuating

Before you even think about engaging, the first thing you need to do is try and evacuate and get everyone to safety. However, you can’t just go running about randomly, trying to open closed doors or follow hallways that lead nowhere. You need to have a specific route in mind, and start going toward it.

Depending on where the active shooter is, there are a couple of ways you can go about escaping. If you’re inside, there should probably be an evacuation plan clearly posted somewhere. But if it’s taking place outdoors, you need to find a place where you can take cover. 

Another important part of active shooter protection during an evacuation is to help others if possible and prevent them from going to where the shooter might be. Only when you and your client are safe should you call authorities for help.

If Evacuation Isn’t an Option

There will be scenarios where evacuation isn’t possible, and you’ll have to come up with a different strategy on the spot. If that’s the case, your first priority has to be finding a safe place to hide. 

Ideally, you should find an area where the shooter can’t see or reach you. However, since that’s not always an option, the next best thing is to hide somewhere and block the shooter from your safe space. You can do that by boarding up the door with heavy objects or furniture and keeping a low profile.

When you’re hiding, you should silence all your phones and devices, as well as remain quiet. 

Unfortunately, depending on where you are or who you’re with, sometimes you can’t evacuate or hide. At that moment, you should try to stay as calm as possible, and call for help immediately. Get the emergency services in your country on the phone, and leave the line open so that they can hear exactly what’s going on.

2. Responding

Let’s get this right out of the way — responding should be the absolute last step you take as part of the active shooter protection plan. You should only respond if your life or the life of your client is in immediate danger. 

Your primary goal here is to incapacitate or disrupt the shooter long enough for others to evacuate or for help to get there. One thing that you can do to achieve that is to start acting aggressively toward the shooter by yelling and shouting. 

If you have a weapon on you, now is the time to take it out, and try to defend yourself. But again, this is the last resort if all other options have failed.

If you don’t have a weapon, grab whatever’s closest to you, and create a sort of makeshift weapon. Most importantly, whatever you do, commit to your actions. Never turn your back on the shooter unless you’re covering someone or you are sure that the shooter is incapacitated.

3. Once Help Arrives

When the emergency responders show up at the scene, you need to stay calm and follow all the directions that they’re giving you. Put your hands up in the air, get rid of any weapons, and spread out your fingers.

Also, don’t make any sudden movements so that the officers don’t see you as a threat. Remember, it’s a high-stakes situation, and one wrong move could end up costing you a lot.

Don’t ask the officers on the scene for exit directions, just follow where they came from, and safely make your way out. 

Active Shooter Protection
Active Shooter Protection

Staying One Step Ahead of the Shooters

Understanding how active shooter protection works starts with being prepared. If you can figure out the early signs, get proper information, come up with a plan, and train for the worst, you’ll be well-equipped to handle almost any situation. 

1. Know the Early Signs

There are some telltale signs that a person is struggling, and might consider doing the worst thing imaginable — opening fire on civilians. If you’re an EP agent, and you’re assigned to a client, you need to do in-depth research on anyone who could be a possible threat. 

Then, watch their behavior as closely as you can, and look for the following sings:

  • Anger outbursts
  • Disrespect of authority
  • Paranoia
  • Substance abuse
  • Constant mood swings

We know that sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t have the time or resources to do all of this research. However, one thing that you should never be without is an active shooter protection plan.

2. Have an Action Plan

Along with your EP company (if you’re working for one), your clients, and colleagues, you need to come up with an emergency action plan. In it, you should have clear guidelines on how all emergency situations will be handled. If you’re going to a venue, look up emergency exits beforehand and come up with emergency escape procedures. 

You should also have a system for reporting all emergencies, and know where the nearest hospitals around the venue are. Get the distance, phone numbers, exact location, and the name of the place before you head off anywhere.

Some of the things we’ve listed seem small in the grand scheme of things, but they are beyond important. You should always be prepared for any situation that might come your way because you could save someone’s life.

3. Do Training Exercises

The road to coming with up a solid active shooter protection plan starts with training. Since winging it isn’t usually an option, you can better prepare yourself by doing some exercises and courses. 

For example, you need to start with learning hand-to-hand combat, how to disarm someone, and, of course, some basic shooting skills. You should also do evacuation and emergency drills every once in a while to stay sharp. Lastly, don’t forget to brush up on your emergency medical skills and know the ins and outs of efficient communication.

Bottom Line

We cannot stress this enough, but the basics of an active shooter protection plan all begin with preparation. Most of your work will be done before you even step out, and it’s all about doing research and gathering information. If you’re in the midst of an active shooter situation, stay calm, and remember the Run. Hide. Fight. plan.

If you want more information on active shooter drills, essential EP skills, and the latest industry trends, sign up for our newsletter. We have something for both future practitioners, as well as industry pros.

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