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What To Do If You’re In An ‘Active Shooter’ Situation What To Do If You’re In An ‘Active Shooter’ Situation

Sadly, we have had to come to terms with an increasing number of potential “active shooter” situations, We are left wondering what would we do if we found ourselves in those circumstances.

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Here is a quick look at what a person should do if they become part of an “active shooter” situation:

1. “Avoid” starts with your state of mind. Pay attention to your surroundings, and have an exit plan. Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible.

2. “Deny” access when getting away may be difficult or even impossible. Keep distance between you and the shooter. Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat. Turn lights off and remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silencing your phone.

3. “Defend” because you have the right to protect yourself. If you cannot avoid or deny, be prepared to defend yourself. Be aggressive and committed to your actions. Rally people around you to attack as a group and use improvised weapons if needed. Do not fight fairly; this is about survival.

Remember to respond to arriving officers appropriately. Put down any weapons you may have and keep your hands visible unless otherwise ordered. Follow all commands, regardless of whether you think their commands are reasonable or not.

Other resources:

The Department of Homeland Security provides this information card you can carry and refer to.

Northwestern University offers these tips for students on campus:

If an active shooter is outside your building or inside the building you are in, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Proceed to a room that can be locked or barricaded.
  • Lock and barricade doors or windows.
  • Turn off lights.
  • Close blinds.
  • Turn off radios or other devices that emit sound.
  • Keep yourself out of sight, stay away from windows and take adequate cover/protection, i.e. concrete walls, thick desks, filing cabinets.
  • Silence cellphones.
  • Have one person call 911 and say, “This is — University (give your location), we have an active shooter on campus, gunshots fired.”
  • If you were able to see the offender(s), give a description of their sex, race, clothing, type of weapon(s), location last observed, direction of travel and identity, if known.
  • If you observed that anyone was injured, give a description of the location and number of victims.
  • If you observed any suspicious devices (improvised explosive devices), provide the location observed and a description.

Try to warn other faculty, staff, students and visitors to take immediate shelter.

  • If you heard any explosions, provide a description and location.
  • Wait patiently until a uniformed police officer, or a university official known to you, provides an “all clear.”
  • Unfamiliar voices may be an active shooter trying to lure you from safety; do not respond to voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a police officer or university official.
  • Rescuing people should only be attempted if it can be accomplished without further endangering the persons inside a secured area.
  • Depending on circumstances, consideration may also be given to exiting ground floor windows as safely and quietly as possible.

If an active shooter enters your office or classroom, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Try not to do anything that will provoke the active shooter.
  • If there is no possibility of escape or hiding, only as a last resort, when your life is in imminent danger, should you make a personal choice to attempt to negotiate with or overpower the assailant(s).
  • Call 911, if possible, and provide the information listed in the first guideline.
  • If the active shooter(s) leaves the area, barricade the room or proceed to a safer location.

If you are in an outside area and encounter an active shooter, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Move away from the active shooter or the sounds of gunshot(s) and/or explosion(s).
  • Look for appropriate locations for cover/protection, i.e. brick walls, retaining walls, large trees, parked vehicles or any other object that may stop bullet penetration.
  • Try to warn other faculty, staff, students and visitors to take immediate shelter.
  • Call 911 and provide the information listed in the first guideline.

What to expect from responding police officers

The objectives of responding police officers are to:

  • Immediately engage or contain the active shooter(s) in order to stop life threatening behavior.
  • Identify threats such as improvised explosive devices.
  • Identify people who have been wounded to facilitate medical care, interviews and counseling.

Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard in order to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. The first responding officers may be in teams; they may be dressed in normal patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external ballistic vests and Kevlar helmets or other tactical gear. The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns or handguns. Do exactly as the officers instruct. The first responding officers will be focused on stopping the active shooter and creating a safe environment for medical assistance to be brought in to aid the injured.



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