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Tips on Active Shooter Situations

Written by Legal Aid WV


The United States Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”[1]

Most incidents occur at locations in which the killers find little impediment in pressing their attack. Locations are generally described as soft targets, that is, they carry limited security measures to protect members of the public.

Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10-15 minutes, (usually before law enforcement arrives) individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation. It is recommended that people always be aware of their environment and any possible dangers and take note of the two nearest exits in any facility they visit.

Experts who train on active shooter situations suggest that the following steps:

  1. Run
    If there is an accessible path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

    • Have an escape route and plan in mind
    • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
    • Leave your belongings behind
    • Help other escape, if possible
    • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the shooter may be
    • Keep your hands visible
    • Follow the instructions of any police officers
    • Do not attempt to move wounded people
    • Call 911 when you are safe
  2. Hide
    If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should:

    • Be out pf the shooter’s view
    • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (ie: an office with a closed and locked door)
    • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement
    • If possible, lock or blockade the door with heavy furniture
    • Silence your cell phone and/or pager
    • Turn off any source of noise (ie: radios, televisions)
    • Hide behind large items
    • Remain quiet
      If evacuation and hiding are not possible:
    • Remain calm
    • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the shooter’s location
    • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
  3. Fight
    As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the shooter by:

    • Acting as aggressively as possible against them
    • Throwing items and improvising weapons
    • Yelling
    • Committing to your actions

Following Is a video that shows Run * Hide * Fight in action:


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