Being caught in a public mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, is horrific, and our prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims and survivors. In a perfect world, these shootings would not happen, but in reality knowing what to do (or not to do) if you or your loved ones ever face a scenario can save your life.
The following are tips to help you create a survival plan to protect yourself and others during an incident if you ever need it. These recommendations are based on knowledge from police and military experts trained in surviving these encounters.
- If you are with a group or your family, establish a leader to make the decisions in an emergency, and then have everyone follow the leader and the directions.
- Run like hell because your life will depend on it! In fight-or-flight situations, it can be easy to freeze up, but it won’t help you. Also, it’s much harder for an active shooter to hit a moving target than a still one. And if you are moving and running, even if you are shot, you are less likely to be hit in the head or chest. Run to create as much distance between you and the shooter as possible!
- Hide from a shooter or shooters only if you must. Choose solid objects for hiding spots such a tree, a concrete barrier, building, or locked rooms in a building (example, locked classrooms in schools), and bring others with you. If the door doesn’t lock, use furniture to barricade it. Pull shades down if there are glass windows. Once you are inside a room, keep everyone and everything absolutely quiet (including cell phones) until the threat is completely gone! Do not emerge from your safe spots until the danger is gone!
- Fight back as a final resort and if there’s no other way. Experts recommended fighting back in groups and coordinating your attacks as a group. Keep everyone calm and alert. If you are unarmed, for example, you can use furniture or other objects – chairs or lamps, for example – as weapons to fight back at your attackers.
- If you are hiding, do not leave your safety zone until the danger is clear. More than likely, this will involve an evacuation event with police and first-responders coming to aid you and others.
- Help others and contact the authorities once you are safely out of the danger zone. You might think contacting the authorities should be your first action, but it’s not because in a life-or-death situation, you need to secure your safety (and the safety of others) first. If there is a way to run to an exit or completely away from the danger, this takes first precedent. Once you can secure your safety, then you should call 911.