In today's unpredictable world, being prepared for emergency situations can make a significant difference. One such horrifying event that nobody wants to imagine is a mass shooting. While the chances of being involved in such an incident remain low, knowing what to do can increase your odds of survival. As a lawyer enforcement security expert, I provide here a few practical steps and considerations to remember if you ever find yourself in such a dire situation.
1. Run: Prioritize Escape
- Stay Aware of Exits: Always be aware of exit points in any location you frequent. This includes not only the main entrances but also emergency exits and windows.
- React Quickly: Every second counts. If you hear what sounds like gunshots, trust your instincts and act immediately. Hesitation can be deadly.
- Leave Belongings: Your life is infinitely more valuable than any personal item. If you need to run, leave everything behind.
- Avoid Running in a Straight Line: Zigzagging makes you a harder target to hit.
2. Hide: Seek Shelter
- Find Concealment and Cover: Concealment hides you from the shooter's sight, while cover offers protection from gunfire. Thick walls, metal cabinets, or concrete barriers are ideal.
- Silence and Dim: Turn off any noise-making devices and lower your brightness. This includes phones and radios.
- Barricade: If possible, barricade the entrance to your hiding spot using furniture or other heavy objects.
- Stay Low: Remember that bullets can ricochet, so stay as low to the ground as possible.
3. Fight: As a Last Resort
- Improvised Weapons: If you must defend yourself, look for objects that can be used as weapons – fire extinguishers, chairs, or even pens can be used effectively in desperate situations.
- Act Decisively: If you decide to confront the shooter, commit to your actions. A half-hearted attempt can be more dangerous than not acting at all.
- Aim for Sensitive Areas: Target the eyes, nose, throat, and groin to incapacitate the shooter.
4. Notify Authorities
- Call 911: As soon as it's safe to do so, notify the authorities. Provide as much information as possible, such as the shooter's location, description, and type of weapon.
- Follow Police Instructions: When law enforcement arrives, keep your hands visible at all times and follow any commands they give.
5. After the Incident
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, you might be in shock. It's crucial to get checked by medical professionals.
- Talk About It: Processing a traumatic event is vital for your mental well-being. Consider speaking to a counselor or therapist.
- Cooperate with Law Enforcement: Your testimony can be crucial in ensuring the perpetrator faces justice. Cooperate fully with any investigations.
While the above steps can help during a mass shooting, preventing such incidents is of paramount importance. This involves:
- See Something, Say Something: If you notice any suspicious activity or if someone makes threats, report it to the authorities immediately.
- Support Mental Health Initiatives: Many shooters show signs of mental health issues. As a society, prioritizing mental health can prevent potential tragedies.
- Stay Educated: Participate in active shooter training sessions if they're offered in your community or workplace. The more prepared you are, the better you can react.
While we all hope never to face such a scenario, being prepared can make a difference. By focusing on the basic principles of "Run, Hide, Fight," and understanding the importance of awareness and quick action, we can increase our chances of survival. Prioritizing safety, understanding the environment, and advocating for preventive measures can help mitigate risks and protect our communities.