How to deal with the active shooter – and survive

  • Published
  • By Maj. L. Michelle Stringer
  • 71st Security Forces Squadron commander
Everyday there are emergencies that occur, but some hit closer to home and make the headline news. Last week came to a close with a shooter at Fort Hood in Texas and one in Orlando, Fla.

I believe the one at Fort Hood hit closer to home because it occurred on a military installation.

Security Forces members train with local law enforcement and rely on their skills and experiences from tech school, deployments, and specialized active-shooter training to handle these complex incidents.

Have you ever taken time to reflect on how you or your co-workers would react when faced with a Columbine High School, Virginia Tech or Fort Hood incident?

When you hear loud sounds do you investigate its origins or simply ignore it? Will you call 911 if warranted or will you rely on others to make the call?

You can never be too prepared for this type of event. Discussing actions amongst your co-workers is a great first step.

Let us break down the active shooter scenario. An active shooter is a person whose action is immediately causing death and/or serious injury. The individual is not contained, meaning they are able to move about freely. They have no concern for their safety or threat of capture as they look for targets of opportunity.

Think about your work environment. Do you have an intercom system throughout the building? Is there a way to notify people that there is an emergency taking place in your building?

If a shooter was outside your building would you know what to do? Could you remain calm enough to take actions to save lives? The truth is none of us are sure what we would do in an emergency situation, but planning can make things a little easier.

If a shooter is in your vicinity, flee or seek refuge behind something or under it. There may be more than one shooter, so if you can flee get as far away as possible. If in a building find a room, lock the door, turn off the lights and get down on the floor.

If you have a cell phone, dial 911 and give the dispatcher as much information as possible to include the room number where you are located. If you are unable to speak leave the line open, so the dispatcher can hear what is going on and perhaps pinpoint your location.

Waiting for the good guys to arrive may take some time -- at least it will feel that way while you are hiding -- but you need to remain calm and ensure those around you do the same.

Advise those with you to silence their phones or any other devices that may alert the shooter to your location. Remain in place until you are given the all clear signal and be mindful that the bad guys may tell you its all clear to lure you out of your safe place. And remember, the cops may not know who the bad guy is, so listen to their instructions and keep your hands visible at all times.

Prepare a plan while you have time to think things through, because no community is immune to an active-shooter scenario.