4 Steps That Can Save Your Life if Confronted by an Active Shooter

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013”, 160 active shooter incidents occurred between 2000 and 2013 with 486 resulting fatalities. That’s an average of 11 incidents annually. That number seems a lot lower than some of the statistics tossed around last year after the shooting incident at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  At the time, Mass Shooting Tracker, which is a crowd-sourced website, stated the Umpqua incident was the 295th mass shooting of 2015. It’s not realistic to say there was a 240% increase in mass shootings from 2013 to 2015. The discrepancy lies in the definition.  According to Mass Shooting Tracker, a mass shooting was being defined as an event where “four or more people shot in one event”.

As of 2016 Mass Shooting Tracker has changed their methodology to comply with the standard Gun Violence Archive methodology, which matches the FBI definition of “Four or more shot and/or killed in a single event {incident}, at the same general time and location, not including the shooter.” FBI refers to that as a mass murder (a defined crime), not active shooter.

U.S. government agencies agree on the following definition of active shooter: “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” The major difference is that this definition refers to the active nature of the incident, and that law enforcement and others have the ability to affect the outcome of the event based on their responses.

The FBI study shows that 70% of the active shooter incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment, and because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene- it is important to have a plan of action should an active shooter incident occur at your workplace.

  1. Know your exit routes. Have an escape plan prepared, and make sure all staff and/or students are aware of the planned escape routes.
  2. If escaping to safety is not possible, it is best to hide out of the shooter’s view. Block the entry to your hiding spot and lock the doors. Remain quiet, and remember to silence your cell phones.
  3. Only if you are unable to escape or hide, and only if your life is in imminent danger, then act with physical aggression, throwing items at the active shooter.
  4. Call 911 when it is safe to do so. Relay the location of the active shooter, the number of shooters, a description of shooters, a description of their weapons including the amount, and the number of potential victims.

Consideration should be given to the roles and responsibilities of different departments or staff members when creating an emergency action plan. Human resources, facilities managers and staff managers will all have specific and vital roles in creating and implementing a successful emergency action plan, and each individual should know what is expected of them during such an emergency.