While we never hope to be in this situation, the reality is that mass shooting in large public areas are on the rise. The tragedies that occurred in Las Vegas in late 2017, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in early 2018, and countless others, are sober reminders that these situations can happen anytime, anywhere. In reaction to this, while there will be much political debate on gun control and mental health for months to come, (whether anything comes of it is another story) the best thing you can do today is be proactive in learning about what to do to survive a mass shooting, even if you don't have any training. Knowledge is power.
Our key contributor today is Long Island Licensed Private Investigator, Registered Armed Security Guard, and NYS DCJS Certified Instructor, Matthew D Seifer, who gives his expertise in outlining five key things you need to do in order to get out of an active shooter situation:
You know those bland and boring safety demonstrations you have to sit through on a plane or in a movie theater? Don't dismiss them, pay attention and use that knowledge to your advantage. Any time you enter a space, note the exits and emergency exit locations, as well as any obstacles that may be problematic. Always be aware of what is happening around you, and act upon that information. Our minds tend to associate sounds or stimuli that are a threat as innocuous. For example, many concert-goers in the Las Vegas mass shooting thought at first that the gunshots were pyrotechnics malfunctioning or fireworks. It wasn't until country music singer Jason Aldean ran off the stage and victims began to drop while bleeding, that the crowd realized something was amiss. In another mass shooting, on that fateful Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some students reported that when they heard gunfire, they at first thought the sound of gunshots were balloons popping. When in doubt, get out.
Every second count in an active shooter event. According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 70% of Active Shooter incidents ended within 5 minutes. (Although the Las Vegas mass shooting was an outlier, lasting 10-15 minutes) It can take law enforcement an average of 10 minutes to respond, enter, and engage the shooter, with the same report stating that 60% of active shooter incidents ended before police arrived.
As seen in Las Vegas, in a short amount of time, a devastating amount of damage can be amassed. Your best chance at ensuring survival is in your actions. Having the knowledge from using the situational awareness techniques mentioned earlier can help you make the most informed escape route:
If you are able to safely escape, do so. Employ tactical moves such as using cover as you make your way to an exit and escaping the "kill zone." Do not stop moving until you reach a safe place. Many victims in the Las Vegas shooting dropped to the ground to try to avoid gunfire, but unfortunately, due to the lack of cover, they were hit by the gunman's high vantage point. If you cannot run......
If a safe escape is not possible, find a safe place to hide. If there is not a designated safe room, or cannot reach it, find a room that locks from inside, then lock and barricade the door. Arm yourself with any improvised weapons you can find. Use large protective objects to block yourself from potential gunfire. Most importantly, remain quiet.
Additionally, you need to find cover, not concealment. Concealment will only obscure you from view, but not protect you from bullets. These can be things such as wooden fences, garage doors, car doors, fabric walls, sheetrock, or other weak materials. The cover will block you from view and provide you with protection from gunfire. Look for cover behind things made of concrete or heavy steel, such as barriers, columns, vehicles, (stay near the engine block and front wheels to avoid being hit by gunfire that ricochets under the car) and thick walls.
This is an absolute last resort, after exhausting the run and hide options. At this point, you need to decide to survive: If you encounter the shooter, your only hope is to fight for your life. Commit to taking them down, with whatever means necessary. Use improvised weapons, aggression, and do not stop until the shooter has been neutralized. Your success hinges on your will to live and a survivor mindset.
Matthew Seifer provides anti-crime seminars to the public, including: schools, places of worship, corporations, businesses, entertainment venues, hotels and resorts, libraries, and non-profit organizations. His renowned active shooter seminars go more in depth to cover topics such as:
If you would like more in depth knowledge of how to survive an active shooter situation, you can get more information or request a seminar with our new training division, Guardian Security Training, for your place or work, worship, school, local library, or public space.