A mass shooting is an incident in which an individual actively engages in shooting or attempting to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible. This often takes place in a confined and populated area; in many cases, there is no pattern or method to the shooter’s selection of victims.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop a mass shooting and mitigate harm to victims.
Because most mass shootings are over within 10 to 15 minutes before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
If you hear shots fired or if you witness an armed person shooting or threatening people:
Immediately choose the best way to protect your life. Very quickly, make your best determination of what is occurring and which of the options below will provide the greatest degree of security for you employing the “RUN, HIDE, or FIGHT” protocol.
RUN: Evacuate If Possible
- If there is considerable distance between you and the gunfire/armed person, quickly move away from the sound of the gunfire/armed person. If you are in a building with the gunfire/armed person, and it is safe to do so, run out of the building and move far away until you are in a secure place to hide.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Keep your hands visible to law enforcement during a mass shooting incident.
- Take others with you, but do not stay behind because others will not go.
- Call 911 when it is safe to do so. Do not assume that someone else has reported the incident. The information that you are able to provide law enforcement may be critical, e.g. number of shooters, physical description and identification, number and type(s) of weapons, and location of the shooter.
HIDE: Hide silently in as safe a place as possible
- If you are caught in a mass shooting and cannot evacuate safely, hide in an area out of the armed person’s view.
- Choose a hiding place with thicker walls and fewer windows, if possible.
- Lock doors and barricade with furniture, if possible.
- Turn off lights
- Silence phones and turn off other electronics.
- Close windows, shades and blinds, and avoid being seen from outside the room, if possible.
- If you are outdoors and cannot RUN safely, find a place to hide that will provide protection from gunfire such as a brick wall, large trees or buildings.
- Remain in place until you are confident that the incident is over.
FIGHT: Take action to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter
- As a last resort, fight. If you cannot evacuate or hide safely, and your life is in imminent danger, take action.
- Attempt to incapacitate or disrupt the actions of the shooter.
- Act with physical aggression toward the shooter.
- Use items in your area such as fire extinguishers or chairs.
- Throw items at the shooter if possible.
- Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
Immediately after a mass shooting incident:
- Wait for Local Law Enforcement officers to assist you out of the building, if inside.
- When law enforcement arrives, you must display your empty hands with open palms.
If you found this article useful, please check out our blog for more information like this. You may also visit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website for more information on active shooter preparedness.