Although this is something that makes people uncomfortable to discuss, it does need to be discussed because you need to know what to do if you are involved in one.
In case you have never heard the term, the definition of an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, such as a workplace, school, shopping center, or transit station. In most cases, active shooters use firearms (duh!) and often there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Law enforcement has an additional problem in active shooter situations — who is the shooter and who are the victims. Remember how The Joker duct-taped guns into the hostages hands in Batman The Dark Knight?
You can read about a school and a workplace active shooter situation here to get an idea of what events can trigger active shooter situations and how they turn out.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) offers active shooter training if you are interested. One of their first recommendations is that if there is an accessible escape path, you should attempt to evacuate the premises. If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors. Use heavy items to barricade yourself if possible. And remember to remain quiet and silence your cell phone or pager.
No matter what, you do not want to be a sitting duck Oh, and don’t forget to call 911 as soon as it is safe. If you know who the active shooter is, make sure to give them a description. If you are the facility or security manager or business continuity professional, make sure that you have a crisis response box so that you can give facility maps, keys, and a photo of the shooter to law enforcement when they arrive.
Next week I’ll write about some ways to prevent or mitigate an active shooter situation.