Preparing for an Active Shooter Incident
Active Shooter Defined
An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no apparent pattern or method to how they choose their victims. Active shooter situations evolve quickly and there is no way to anticipate their course. Typically, the immediate deployment of police is needed to stop the shooting and mitigate harm. Active shooter situations can be over within 10 to 15 minutes. For this reason, it is important that you are prepared to take the actions necessary to protect yourself.
GET OUT - HIDE - FIGHT
Experts recommend three essential courses of action to help you avoid harm in an active shooter situation. These methods are demonstrated in the video below, Shooter on Campus: Know You Can Survive.
Getting out is by far the best option if you believe you can escape safely. This is why it is a good idea to make mental notes of means of escape wherever you may be on campus. If you hear something that could be gunshots, don't wait: get out.
Hide if you don't know exactly where the shooting is happening or it's too late to escape safely. Get behind a lockable door if you can. Barricade the door. Improvise with any object you can to prevent someone from entering. Once you are hidden, silence your phone, turn off the lights and stay quiet. If your spot is secure, be prepared to remain there until the police come to you with the all clear.
Fighting is your absolute last resort. You would only confront an active shooter if you somehow became trapped in a space with no escape. Active shooters typically don't respond to reason, so you must assume they intend to harm you. Find an object you can use to strike the shooter with; trip them with a chair; be as aggressive as you can; do anything you can to stop them. You will need to decide if you can do this. Remember, it is your decision.
You Can Prepare Yourself
You can make a difference simply by imagining various scenarios playing out in the places you take classes, study or work. Where are the exits? Do the doors lock? What would make a good barricade? What would make a good weapon? Ask yourself "What if...?" This kind of thinking is helpful in preparing for all kinds of emergencies, wherever you may go.
About The Police
You might be surprised by the actions of the police in an active shooter situation. First, they may not have time to help you when first arrive, as their top priority will be to find and stop the shooter. Second, the police might not know exactly what the shooter looks like so they have to consider you a possible threat. For that reason, if you encounter police, don't run toward them. Remain calm. Keep your hands visible. Follow instructions.
Identifying A Person At Risk
There is no way to accurately predict who is on the way to becoming an active shooter, but there are behaviors that can indicate someone is in trouble. Be aware of the signs.
Behavioral changes: angry outbursts, agitation, poor hygiene, visible weight change, intimidation and bullying, altercations with others, intoxication or substance abuse, uttering hostile or offensive remarks, strange or disturbing behavior.
Performance: repeated absences, missed deadlines, significant drop in performance, inappropriate or incoherent writing, frequently interrupting, disruptive behavior.
Social/Emotional: significant problems interacting with others, isolated or withdrawn, extreme or prolonged sadness, emotional outbursts, devoid of any emotions, erratic mood swings, excessive fatigue.
Reporting A Concern
Call campus police at 412.396.2677 or off campus 911 for an emergency or your department head or supervisor for any other concern.
Shooter on Campus: Know You Can Survive.
Following the video, you are encouraged to read Active Shooter Questions and Answers.