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Be Prepared: What To Do In An Active Shooter Situation

by Tim Brunicardi on March 1, 2018

What’s the first thing you would do if you found yourself in an active shooter situation? Would you immediately reach for your cell phone to call for help? If a mob of people began to frantically head for the nearest exit would you follow them, or break away from the crowd and search for a place to hide? More importantly, what would you do if you found yourself in the same room as the shooter?

active shooter

As the rate of active shooter situations continues to rise, more and more people are suddenly asking themselves these very same questions. Also, since the majority of active shooter situations occur on a high school or college campus, many of those people are students.

Therefore, in the event that you should ever find yourself in this kind of life threatening scenario, here are a few tips geared to helping you stay safe in an active shooter situation.

Create a “What If” Plan of Action.

You never know if you'll be caught in an active shooter situation, so it's wise to create a "what if" plan. It's smart for you to become familiar with the layout of your college campus and make mental notes of where the exits are located in any building you're regularly in. Scouting out secure locations throughout campus that you could potentially hide in is another way to be proactive.

What Should You Do First When an Attack Occurs?

The instant a threat presents itself, you should drop your belongings and get out. If a large group of people is heading for the same exit, try to break away and find an alternate escape route. Don’t stop to talk to anyone unless it’s to tell them to run or hide. If you can’t evacuate, barricade yourself in a room, lay low, and find a hiding place that doesn’t restrict your movement.

How Should You Secure Your Hiding Place?

Should you ever find yourself unable to evacuate from the building, hiding in place is the second best option. When hiding in place, you should:
  • Immediately lock and barricade any doors
  • Turn off the lights
  • Close any blinds or curtains
  • Look for anything you could use as a weapon (chair, fire extinguisher, etc.)
  • Stay out of sight and remain as quiet as possible until law enforcement arrives
  • If other people are with you, instruct them to hide in different locations throughout the room
  • Turn your cell phone to silent mode

Make Good Use Of Your Cell Phone.

Nowadays, almost everyone has a cell phone on them. The first thing you'll want to do is turn off the ringer. Next, designate someone to call 911 to inform them of the situation. Give the dispatcher as many details as you can while being as quiet as possible.

What Should You Do If You’re Near The Shooter?

If you find yourself in close distance to the shooter, try and get far away as possible. When running away, run in a zig-zag motion as it'll be harder for the shooter to aim. If you need time to get away, try your best at distracting the shooter by creating a diversion to confuse them. You can do this by tossing objects at them like books or chairs.

What To Do When Law Enforcement Arrives?

When hiding in place, it's best to stay put until law enforcement shows up. When you hear the officers, speak up and let them know where you are. Keep your hands free and visible at all times, and follow any instructions they give you.

How to Process The After Effects of the Attack

Be aware that you might not experience the emotional after effects of what you have been through for a few days, or sometimes even a few weeks. Students should fight the urge to isolate and withdraw themselves from family and friends, and should talk about what they've been through with someone they trust.

If you find yourself struggling with any lingering feelings of anxiety and depression, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Hocking College's Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday from 9AM — 5PM in Oakley Hall, Room 210. They also provide after hours, which are offered Monday through Friday from 5PM — 8PM, and Saturday & Sunday from 10AM — 3PM. The Counseling Center is free and open to all students.

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