Active Shooter / Workplace Violence [Part 3 of 3]
“Do We Run, Hide or Fight?”
In part 1 and 2 of this Active Shooter/Workplace Violence blog we covered a brief part of the history of the active shooter and how police today are to respond. We also covered how we need to be prepared both mentally and physically to avoid being in the middle of such a deadly mess.
In this third and final segment I’d like to cover if we should run, hide or fight when caught inside our workplace or other building and an active shooter situation erupts.
First of all, let’s go back to “Do we have a plan?” Remember our “plan” can be ever changing due to where we are and who we are with. Our plan should not be too difficult to remember for ourselves or for our family members.
TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN
Let’s take a look at getting out of the building and away from the area. When bad things start happening chaos will ensue. People will be running, hiding or freezing in their footsteps. They will be running over each other to get out. Cooler heads will prevail. The cooler heads will most likely be the ones with the plan. Part of your plan is to know the area in which you are in. Have at least basic knowledge of the building you are in. If it is a building that you work in you should know something about it. Know where the exits are. Know where the stairwells are and where they lead to. If you know nothing about the building you work in you should get with your employer and see if they can set up a few hours of “show and tell” about the building with the maintenance group.
Restaurants and movie theaters have well-lit exit signs to help guide you, you need to get to them. Restaurants also have an exit through the kitchen.
When running, leave everything behind. Do not go back for your purse, briefcase or anything! Move to the nearest exit as quickly as possible and go. Listen for the gun fire, if any at this point, and try to go in the opposite direction.
You must understand that while running away you may come across the shooter, some injured or dead friends and colleagues. This will shock you, possibly freeze you in your tracks but you must keep moving otherwise you may be the next victim. Don’t look down, just keep moving.
Another group of people you will come across is the police. Here are some things to remember to do if in this situation.
If you come across the police remember that they don’t know you from the “Shooter”! They are just as nervous as you are. They are human so they may be edgy due to the circumstances. You need to keep your hands in the air where the officers can see them. Do exactly what they tell you to do. Do not run to them, do not hug them, do not scream at them and do not point at them. Just follow their directions and they will get you out of the building.
Once you are safely out of the building try to keep other people from entering and get to a safer distance away. Understand that the police will detain you once you are out of the building. They will want to interview you as to what you may have seen and get you checked out for any injuries you may have sustained during your evacuation of the building.
WHERE TO HIDE
As this incident explodes into reality we will have the natural instinct to run. We will want to run from the sounds and the danger but what if we can’t run? What if we are stuck in an area that we cannot get out of? Maybe we are injured, have our foot or leg in a cast, or we are in a wheelchair. At this point we can only hide. Where do we hide?
Active Shooter history has shown that building restroom areas are not the best areas to hide. There is no other exit except where you entered. When the shooter enters the restroom it becomes total death and destruction.
Hiding under your desk in your cubicle is like hiding in plain sight. You are curled up under the desk in a fetal position hoping the shooter doesn’t see you but there is a good chance he will.
Your best bet is to be out of sight. If you can get into an office or closet, preferably one with a lock on the door this will help. It has been noted that when a shooter is making their way through the area and comes upon a door and it is locked or they cannot get in they will pass it up. Once in the room lock or barricade the door and stay back away from it. Stay low to the ground. You should try to arm yourself with some type of improvised weapon while inside the room. An improvised weapon can be something like a chair, fire extinguisher, paper weight or staple gun from a desk. Anything you can use as a diversion to counter attack or make space to run. Something to strike with or throw at the shooter if he makes his way into the room you are in.
When in a movie theater or restaurant it won’t pay to hide under your dinner table or under your theater seat. You will be confined and won’t be able to run. There are not many places to hide in these venues so run to escape will be your best bet.
Here is some homework for you! The next time you are out at the movie theater or restaurant and when you go to work take a look around and find the best places that you think you would hide in the event you were there during an active shooter situation. Look at it and ask yourself is this the place I want to hide myself or my family? Make it the best place as you may not have much choice when it happens.
SHOULD I FIGHT? / CAN I FIGHT?
Running into the sound of gun fire is not a natural thing to do. Your brain and body will be screaming at you telling you that it isn’t right.
Police and Military do it every day and they will tell you that it is just not natural. They do it to save lives. When an active shooter incident is underway and you are right in the middle of it you will have some decisions to make, either run, hide or fight. We have already discussed the run and hide part so if you decide to fight that should be your last effort to stop the threat and save lives. This is a personal decision to make and it will have to be made quickly. There is a method to this!
If you could not escape the area and you are hiding and you see the shooter you have to quickly make the decision to what you are going to do.
If you plan on attacking this shooter remember that there is strength in numbers. If you can muster up a team and have a quick plan as to what you are going to do then the plan has to be executed quickly and violently. Yes, violently! I mean if you are going to attack this person you had better hit him with everything you have in you to stop the threat. Can you be violent? Can you throw that switch and crush this person who is trying to take your life and lives of others? Don’t answer me, look in the mirror and answer to yourself because that’s what it will take if you fight the shooter.
If the shooter is 100 yards away then your “fight” plan may not work to well. If the shooter is 100 yards away then run in the other direction and get out. Your fight plan would probably work better at a closer distance.
If the shooter is closer and his back is to you then this is most likely the way to attack. Ambush him from behind with others. Fear is contagious but so is courage. When I say courage is contagious I remember United Airlines flight 93 and “Let’s Roll”. You should roll with a team if you can, but if you can’t and it’s just you, you better throw the switch.
The shooter in Pulse Night Club (Orlando) had allegedly stopped shooting to reload and then stopped at another time and sent a text to his wife. There was down time and the shooter was preoccupied with something else that had his attention. This would be the optimal time to attack if that was something you would do.
Something you need to understand is that attacking the shooter at the wrong time could cause death or great bodily harm to you or those helping you. Be sure of your timing on the attack.
Once the shooter is taken down they need to be secured. They need to be kept down on the ground and disarmed immediately. This is where a group of co-workers, friends and even strangers come in. Team work at its best.
The shooters firearm also needs to be secured. Get it away from the shooter! Whatever you do, don’t pick it up and point it at the shooter or anyone! At this point in time, the police could be entering the building or room and the last thing you want is to be standing there pointing a firearm at the shooter. Understand that until the smoke clears everyone is considered a threat by the police.
Again, I’d like to get your feedback on this blog as a whole or just the “Should I fight / Can I fight” section. Any comments or thoughts can be emailed to me at info @riddledefense.com