Active Shooter Strategies

Recently I was interviewed by Channel 11’s Dane Sanzebacher about active shooter events, (obviously inspired by the recent Orlando tragedy.) A lot of “regular folks” have recently asked me about “what to do.” So here are the basics and what you should consider now, before such an event ever happens.

Statistics show that the best way to survive such a dangerous event is to get out and get away as quickly as possible. Get you and your family to safety, and “safety” means leave the area completely. Make a habit of knowing where the exits are to whatever building or place you happen to be in. I think of it as a mental fire drill. And like a fire drill, you should have at least two exits, just in case one exit is blocked or unavailable.

If you are unable to escape an active shooter event, you will look for offices, rooms, closets, or anywhere you can barricade yourself in. Most events last 3-5 minutes and end with suicide when police arrive, or with direct police intervention. However police response times are typically 8-10 minutes or more. So basically you are trying to buy time. Locked doors are good, but there is no guarantee your shooter won’t have a key. Look for items you can barricade in front of the door so unlocked or not, it becomes as un-passable as can be.

Know the difference between Cover and Concealment. Concealment is what can hide you from another person or shooter. Cover is anything that will impede or impair incoming rounds. My office is concealment, you can’t often see me in there, that doesn’t mean I can’t be shot. Drywall is a poor barrier to bullets.

Once you are barricaded in, if the shooter is breaking through, fighting is your next best option. Look for things you can use as improvised weapons. Such weapons will usually take the form of something that can be thrown, or used as a striking tool. People who fight, especially those who do so in groups, have a surprisingly high survival rate regardless of whether they’ve barricaded in or not. But you must be fully committed, and absolutely ruthless. “Swarming” is a great strategy. I am a great fighter, and an excellent marksman, but I can’t handle 6 people charging me at short range all at once (let alone if they’re hitting me with things!)

What to do ahead of time? Make a habit of sitting in public places where you can see the most people and know where your exits are (this information is handy in many different emergency situations, not just shooting events.)  Consider the places where you spend the most time, and think of where you might be able to barricade yourself or others in. Do it now, so you don’t waste time having to figure it out during an emergency. A mediocre plan immediately acted on will save many more lives than a perfect plan 3 minutes later.

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