911 How To Survive An Active Shooting Situation
Navigating a distressing scenario where chaos and danger converge demands utmost preparedness. Picture yourself trapped in a heart-pounding shooter crisis. How would you react? How can one emerge unscathed while minimizing the toll of casualties?
It may seem improbable, but the possibility of encountering a violent incident looms over schools and workplaces, urging us to arm ourselves with knowledge for the unforeseen.
That said, your survival may depend on whether you have a plan that need not be complicated. There’re three things you can do that can make all the difference. Run. Hide. Fight.
Of course, running should always be your priority, but remember to remain vigilant and adaptive. When the shadows of safety elude you, be ready to hide/blend into the scenery or muster the courage to defend your life. Here’s how you can survive in a shooting crisis.
Take Immediate Action
Preparedness is key. Have an adventure at a nearby shooting range if you have one in your area. Familiarize yourself with the distinct notes played by rifles, shotguns, and pistols. You want to learn what these guns sound like so you can instantly tell if shots are being fired.
Many people often confuse the crackle of fireworks with the thunderous discharge of a firearm, but let yourself sit convinced what you hear is just fireworks. A gunshot pierces the air with a magnitude that dwarfs even the most boisterous firecracker.
So in case of any doubt, treat those grandeurs’ shots as gunshots and act swiftly.
Swift Moves Are Key to Survival
When faced with any situation, speed becomes your greatest ally. Avoid freezing or wasting time weighing your options. Seek an escape route and take off running.
If gunshots echo from afar, you can likely flee before the shooter arrives. And if your shoes hinder your speed, ditch them without hesitation. You have precious moments to act in those crucial first seconds unless you’re the shooter’s initial target.
Sadly, in public shooting incidents, many people freeze or attempt to decipher the chaos. It’s a recurring pattern: they mistake gunshots for fireworks or struggle to grasp the horrifying reality, wasting vital seconds. Learn the art of swift response.
People react in two distinct ways during such situations. Half may freeze, unwilling to confront or accept the danger, while the other half shift into action mode.
They describe a surge of pure adrenaline, an instinctual understanding of what must be done—and they act on it. Mental preparation and vigilant assessment of surroundings are crucial for falling into the latter category.
Get Low and Move In a Non-Uniform Pattern
When the going gets tough, embrace zigzagging and sudden changes in direction. It might seem odd. But running in a straight line makes you an easy target for a shot in the back. Find a safe spot to barricade yourself if unsure of the shooter’s whereabouts.
A notable example is the Virginia Tech shooting, where students heard gunfire but lacked knowledge of the shooter’s whereabouts. Venturing into the hallways would have been perilous.
Instead, courageous students and teachers held the doors, keeping the shooter at bay. Tragically, one teacher—a Holocaust survivor—lost his life while safeguarding his students. Another student was wounded, but their actions saved the entire class.
When approaching corners: instead of simply walking out around the corner, rotate around it. This method minimizes the amount of yourself exposed. By rotating around the corner, you can potentially spot a shooter and swiftly retreat to safety before they have a chance to shoot.
When You Come Across A Handy Weapon, Go For It!
If you ever come across something pointy or sturdy that you can carry while running, go ahead and grab it.
However, don’t waste time searching for one when you could be making your getaway. Remember, this is only for dire situations when escaping the shooters seems impossible.
Utilize Your Resources for Safety
Take stock of what you have available. If you have a mirror and can attach it to a broom handle or something similar, you can use it to peek around corners and assess the safety of a corridor. It provides an extra layer of protection.
Taking Cover and Securing Your Space
Opt for this plan only when running isn’t possible. Assess the situation quickly to determine if running is an option. If the shooter is rapidly approaching your location or blocking the sole exit, it’s time to find a hiding spot or fortify your surroundings swiftly.
Seek out cover, preferably both cover and concealment. Cover refers to objects that can withstand gunfire, while concealment hides you from view. It’s crucial to understand the difference. Remember, your car, most walls, and your desk provides concealment but not actual cover.
The cover includes granite-faced walls, tiled bathroom walls, sturdy wooden doors, steel blast doors, and concrete walls. Although these types of covers are not widespread, knowing their locations is important.
Hiding is the secondary choice as it confines you to a specific area. However, it’s important to note that most mass shooting incidents conclude within ten to fifteen minutes. If you can evade the shooter for that duration, your chances of survival greatly increase.
Work with Others for Safety
When others are in the room, share responsibilities to maximize your chances of survival. Get their attention and assign them to the following tasks:
Designate one person to call 9-1-1 (or the emergency number in your area). Form a group to secure and barricade the door. Assemble another group to gather anything that can be used as a weapon.
Turn Off the Lights
Swiftly turn off the lights in your room. Doing so decreases the likelihood of the shooter entering and slightly improves your chances of survival if they do.
Secure and Block the Door
Without delay, lock the door and take measures to make it harder for the shooter to gain access. Remember that most shooters have limited time before law enforcement arrives and prefer the path of least resistance.
Lock the door, and use a doorstop if available. And quickly move heavy furniture like desks and chairs to obstruct the entrance, making it challenging for the shooter to proceed.
If the shooter approaches, move away from the door as quickly as possible. Stay clear of all doors and windows.
If the door leads to the outside, creating a barricade will only momentarily impede the shooter. It may not be worth your time and could obstruct a potential escape route.
If you’re in a bathroom without a lock, improvise by looping a belt or a T-shirt around the arms of the door butler (the metal hinge on top of the door that enables it to swing open).
Contact Emergency Services
It’s crucial to call for help during a mass shooting situation. Shockingly, it often takes around five minutes before someone reaches out to the police.
If you have others in the room who can assist in barricading the door, calling emergency services immediately can make a significant difference. Typically, law enforcement arrives within three minutes after the call is made.
If available, use a landline instead of a cell phone, as it allows the police to trace the call automatically. Watch for a ceiling sprinkler system if you can’t reach emergency services directly. Try activating it by holding a lighter underneath the detector.
This action should trigger an automatic call to the fire department, bringing help your way.
Arm Yourself with Available Objects
Look around the room where you’re hiding. See if any items can be used as weapons. It could be something as simple as a stapler or sharp scissors from the teacher’s desk, a hot cup of coffee in the office kitchen, beakers, or potentially hazardous substances like sulfuric acid in a science room. Or anything sharp, heavy, made of glass, or suitable for defense. Keep these objects within reach in case the shooter enters your hiding place.
Even small objects thrown collectively by a large group can momentarily deter an attacker. While this is undoubtedly a last resort, those who can’t find a weapon should still grab something that can be thrown for additional defense.
Mute All Noisy Devices
Take a moment to turn off any devices that may create sound. Silence your cell phone and other electronics, ensuring they won’t attract the shooter’s attention.
Remember, muting your cell phone is crucial, as people might try to contact you once they learn about the shooter at your location.
Simply putting it on silent mode is not enough. Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature by swiping up from the bottom on iOS (and a similar method on Android). Vibrations could potentially give you away if the surroundings are quiet.
You never know what might happen. If the shooter is close by, even vibrations can be heard. Plus, personal reactions to phone vibrations can unintentionally reveal your presence.
Close Quarters Combat is Advantageous
If you find yourself in a situation where you must fight, remember that closing the distance is your ally. Approach the shooter unnoticed and get as close as possible.
With one hand, grab the barrel of the firearm while using the other hand to cover the ejection port. Ensure the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction.
When the shooter pulls the trigger, the gun will fire only once because covering the ejection port will cause a malfunction, preventing it from cycling another round.
The weapon becomes useless until the shooter manually clears and cycles another round (providing a perfect opportunity for you to disarm and subdue them).
Acquire Basic Gunshot First Aid Skills
In an active shooter situation, skip applying direct pressure to a gunshot wound on an arm or leg. Instead, focus on learning how to create a tourniquet using any fabric or material around 1 to 3 inches wide, along with a pen.
Apply the tourniquet tightly around the injured limb. The priority is to stop the bleeding promptly and swiftly remove the injured person from the dangerous environment. Time is crucial.
Be Aware of Escapes
Knowing exit routes can be a lifesaver. It’s not just about the entrance you used, but also being aware of other ways out. Consider the places you visit regularly, how often you enter a building, and immediately head to the opposite side.
Assist as a Reliable Witness
If it’s safe, strive to be your best witness. If you managed to get a good look at the active shooter, provide a detailed description or any relevant information to the police through the emergency line (911).
This includes the number of shooters, weapons types, and other crucial details. Such information can be immensely valuable for the responding units.
Many cases suffer from insufficient witness descriptions, leading to misguided investigations. We’re not suggesting that you stare down the attacker, but if you had an opportunity to observe, report the information as accurately as possible.
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to Amaze Info.
The key to increasing your chances of survival is to act immediately. If you have a clear escape route, take it without hesitation. However, it’s important to acknowledge that each active shooter situation unfolds differently.
If exits are blocked with explosives, attempting to escape may be dangerous. Hiding can save your life in some cases. But it can also make you an easier target for others. Trust your instincts and try to assess the situation as best as possible.
Unfortunately, being armed yourself is often the most effective measure. While there have been numerous shootings in the United States, a few of them have been prevented before they even began.
For example, there was an instance where a shooter intended to enter a crowded church and open fire. Fortunately, their plans were thwarted because an individual with a concealed carry permit intervened.
An off-duty police officer caught the shooter in the church hallway and eliminated the threat, saving countless lives. Remarkably, the shooter’s parents even expressed gratitude to the officer the following day.
It’s important to note that self-defense advice is general guidance and may not be
appropriate or effective in all situations. Self-defense involves assessing specific
circumstances and making decisions based on available information and individual
capabilities. Self-defense training should always be approached with caution and
with the understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Moreover, it’s important to understand the laws related to self-defense in your area.
In many places, using force in self-defense is legal only under specific circumstances
and with certain limitations. It’s important to understand the legal aspects of
self-defense to avoid inadvertently breaking the law or putting yourself in further
If you are interested in learning self-defense, it’s recommended that you seek out
professional training from a reputable instructor. A good instructor will not only
teach you physical techniques but will also cover situational awareness, de-escalation
tactics, and legal considerations.
While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information on this website,
we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about
the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the
information provided. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at
your own risk.