Friday’s shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal center is yet another grim reminder of how active shooter events can and do happen anywhere and anytime. Active shooter defense is critical in today’s workplace. There are three Important survival actions everyone can take to improve survival during active shooter events.
We do not yet know all of the facts. Some reports indicate the level of preparedness or lack thereof from employees who escaped the violence. We don’t know if these employees ever participated in a workshop on active shooter defense or preparedness training.
Through the different accounts of the shooting, we learned that there were some who ran and some who hid. According to an article in USA TODAY , Megan Barton, an administrative assistant in the building stated: “We tried to do everything we could to keep everybody safe,” … We were all just terrified. It felt like it wasn’t real, like we were in a dream. You are just terrified because all you can hear is the gunshots.”
Ms. Barton’s account of her initial emotions are similar to anyone who has ever been in an active shooter scenario. The natural reaction is to freeze and loose the ability to react and think clearly. In an active shooter situation, seconds count and the only person who can save you is you. These unfortunate events serve as a reminder that the best defense in any situation is knowledge. So, how does one prepare for the possibility of a violent occurrence like this?
Three Important Actions: Run, Hide, Fight
There are a number of searchable videos that conduct “Run, Hide, Fight” training. Everyone should take the time to view one. The three words- Run, Hide, Fight, in that order, are three critical actions to know during an active shooter event or other violent occurrence.
The most important thing that you should do is run if possible through the closest exit away from the gunfire. This is the immediate action that should come to mind if you here gunfire. However, running is not always the safest option. Running has to take into account the proximity of the shooter to you and the exit. It is important to know all of your exit options.
If you can’t run, your next action should be to hide. Where you hide depends on where you are and where the shooter is. You might need to barricade your office door with chairs, furniture, etc. and hide under your desk. There could be a pre-determined safe room that you go to at your place of work. These options are dependent on where the shooting is taking place and the risk involved with whatever action you take. If you hide, you should find an object that could be used as a weapon. In an office environment, a paper weight, stapler, scissors or coffee mug could be options.
The last option when the first two are not possible is to fight. This should be the option of last resort. Fighting is the only survival option when the shooter is between you and the exit or when there is not a suitable place to hide. Many past shooter incidents ended because multiple people overpowered the gunman during reloading or shooting. Some will likely will be injured or killed with this action, but getting the gunman to the ground and overpowering them can prevent further casualties.
Finally, there is a very important mental exercise that everyone should do upon entering any public place. This could be a place of work, a restaurant, theater, church or school. Upon entering any building or facility, identify all of the exits and make a mental note of where they are. It only takes a few seconds to do this. If a violent incident occurs, you have pre-thought the escape routes. Also, depending on where you are, think of the everyday objects within your reach that could be used as a weapon.
We should all mentally rehearse the Run, Hide, Fight options. Whether at work, a restaurant, school, church, etc., think about how you would react. If and when you find yourself in the middle of an active shooter event, a few moments spent pre-thinking the possibilities could save your life.
Training is Critical
An article cannot cover all of the detail necessary to reduce the risk of becoming an active shooter victim. Training and advanced planning is necessary to react effectively when an event occurs.
In today’s environment, every business and organization should provide active shooter preparation and training for employees. Counter Threat Group, LLC conducts comprehensive threat assessments and provides workplace safety training including “Run, Hide, Fight.” Knowledge and preparation reduce risk and save lives.