It’s 10:30 on a Tuesday morning and you’re sitting in your fifth floor office working on an important report. Your phone lights up with a text message alert from your company’s mass notification system: ”Active shooter on campus. Shelter in place.”
Really, take a moment and actually put yourself in this position and think about what you would do. I’ll wait…
Would you panic and hide? Run to the elevator or stairs and high tail it out of the building? Call your spouse? Pull the fire alarm? Pop your head out of the door and see what everyone else is doing? Freeze up, unable to move?
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
During an active shooter situation there are steps you can take to protect yourself and increase your chances of survival. Understand this: it is a matter of life and death – your actual survival may depend on what you do.
AVOID – Avoid the shooter at all costs. Escape from the vicinity of the shooter. If you can leave the confines of the building, do it.
DENY – If you cannot exit the building, the next step is to deny the shooter access to you and those around you. Find a place to hide. Lock the door. Barricade the door with office furniture or anything big. Use rope, a tie, or a belt to secure outward opening doors. Turn off the lights. Remain quiet, silence your phone, and remain out of sight.
DEFEND – If you have hidden and attempted to deny the shooter access to your location but he still finds a way in, the next step is defend yourself. Remember that an active shooter is trying to kill you, and you have the right to defend yourself by any means necessary. At this point your life depends on how well you defend yourself – do not fight fair. Position yourself where you can surprise the gunman. Use any objects at hand (scissors, hot coffee, fire extinguisher, etc.) to attack the gunman and incapacitate him.
You should understand these options and practice them because if an active shooter situation were to occur, your body will go into panic mode, which severely limits your brain’s ability to function normally. Literally your body may go into: tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, time dilation, out-of-body experience, or reduced motor skills. These are all well documented physiological side effects of extreme stress on your body, and they can all hinder your ability to survive an active shooter situation. This is why you need to make (and practice) a plan beforehand.