Run. Hide. Fight. The local FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association hosted a program on Civilian Active Shooter Preparation and Response by the SWAT Senior Team Leader – and it was a packed room. What a terrifying, but amazing program. (He definitely looks better in the picture than yours truly!) The very first lesson was “No Names.” One of the few consistencies among shooters is the desire for fame. So when talking or teaching, no names of shooters are discussed. They get no fame.
SA Gallante reviewed some of the more prominent active shooter cases in the US, such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood and included incidents from India and Paris. We watched videos (and listened to audio of 911 calls) that were really hard to watch as they were recordings of actual events. One video was of Kristina Anderson, a college student who survived the massacre.
Some of the key points we learned is Run, Hide, Fight. Video Pocket card DHS website This is not a sequence of events necessarily. Its the foundation for options and plans. The following is my recall.
Run: If you can run away, do so. Know where your exits are. The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island in 2003 killed 100 people because most tried to get out the same door they came in when there were other exits available – one behind the stage (not viable once the fire took off), one behind the kitchens that was largely unknown, and another exit on the far side. So…know your exits. You don’t have to be paranoid, but when you go into a building be it your work, a restaurant, a theater, whatever – identify your exits. Consider non-traditional exits – windows, punching through drywall, etc. The story of Rick Rescorla is largely unknown, but after a 1993 truck bomb in the world trade center, he practiced escapes with co-workers – who probably teased him unmercifully and got impatient with his drills. However, his plans and preparations saved over 2000 lives on 9/11 and he was last seen going back in for others. So run. Take others with you, but if they won’t go, don’t delay arguing with them – run. Get out, call 911.
Hide. If you can hide, hide well. Get somewhere that you can put up barricades in the entrance. The more barricade the better – heavy items, lots of items. Lock the door, turn out the lights, and turn off phone sounds. Let the attacker think it is an empty room and/or one that he/she cannot get into easily. If it is a door that open inward, find a way to stop it from opening. If it opens outward, restrict the hinges from working. You can even use a belt, rope, electric cord, shirt, plastic bag – anything to put around the handle to pull against to prevent it from opening. And don’t stand in front of the door. But also don’t stand on the other side of the room either (unless you are trying to get out. If the shooter tries to enter, you are a target who cannot fight back if you are on the other side of the room. which leads us to…
Fight. Fight for your life, because it likely is. If you can run away, run away. If you can hide, hide. But if you need to fight, do so with every tool you have and with commitment. If you are hiding in a room and the shooter tries to enter, stand to the side of the door and attack with everything you have. The shooter is there to shoot. If you are where you cannot run and you cannot hide, then you fight, because your life likely depends on it. It’s the last option, but if this is the option you are left with, then commit fully.
SA Gallante was very polite when asked the inevitable questions of civilians with guns. He is trained. And would not likely want to be in a situation with an untrained civilian who has a gun.
What we learned was to have a plan, be prepared. Practice. Don’t be paranoid, but when your brain goes into fight or flight mode – the hands start shaking and those are the ones who die in the horror movies because they cannot get the key in the door of the house or car. Don’t be that person. Learn to calm breathing and think.
Incredibly impactful program.