Preparing to Survive an Active Shooter Incident

On any given day, the possibility exists that a dangerous situation may arise.  While it is impossible to completely eliminate such occurrences, steps can be taken to mitigate their effects.  Just as you (hopefully) have a plan in place for what to do if a fire starts in your home (and practice that plan!), creating a plan and training for dealing with other potentially dangerous situations can be a life saving endeavor.

Violence in the workplace and other public locations, including “Active Shooter” situations, are nothing new.   From disgruntled (ex-)employees to upset customers flying off the handle to drug-fueled fiends, we hear about these situations all too frequently.  Despite this, a tremendous number of people adopt a “it could never happen to me” attitude and do nothing to prepare for the possibility of such a situation.

While they certainly may be helpful, dedicated tactical training  and personal defense courses aren’t the only way to prepare for a violent threats during the course of everyday life.  Although they happen more often than anyone would like, each one of these incidents provides a valuable learning experience for us all.  For instance, this article by Ed Monk, co-owner of Last Resort Firearms Training, details 10 lessons to take away from the recent theater shooting in Colorado.

The Department of Homeland Security also offers numerous resources to help mitigate the dangers of an Active Shooter scenario by preparing ahead of time.  One of these resources is the IS-907 “Active Shooter:  What Can You Do?” online independent study course from FEMA.  This 45-minute interactive web course (which counts for 0.1 CEU) covers topics including how to prepare for, react to and follow up on an Active Shooter event.  While the course is geared toward being ready for an Active Shooter, the solid principles (such as situational awareness and how to react when first responders arrive) can be applied toward general readiness for any emergency situation.

For those who don’t wish to spend 45 minutes reading slides from the feds and taking a quiz, DHS has also made available a booklet (PDF) and a pocket reference card (PDF) that cover the basics.  These basics include information such as how to respond when law enforcement arrives, what information to provide the 911 dispatcher and the three main DHS recommendations on how to respond to an Active Shooter in your area:

  • Find a safe evacuation route away from the bad guy and take it.  If there is a safe path out, leave your belongings behind and get out of there, even if others try to convince you to stay.
  • If no safe evacuation route is available, seek cover and/or concealment in a place where you think the bad guy won’t find you.  Block the entry to your hiding area, cover and avoid windows, silence your cell phones (setting it to “vibrate” doesn’t count), keep quiet and keep hidden.
  • As a last resort, if your life is in immediate danger and a confrontation is unavoidable, take action and attempt to incapacitate the bad guy.

Another, perhaps easier and more user-friendly way of getting these points across is the Run, Hide, Fight:  Surviving an Active Shooter Event video produced by the City of Houston, Texas, Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

One interesting note that I spotted on my second time watching the video comes at 59 seconds in when we get a good look at the bad guy’s entry into the building.  Plainly displayed on the door is the Texas Penal Code 30.06 verbiage that makes someone who would carry a concealed weapon (even with a permit) onto the premises guilty of criminal trespass.  The sign reads:


I point this out only because it is a prime illustration of how these types of laws do nothing to prevent criminals from creating situations like this (again, see Aurora, Colorado for a fresh reminder) but go far toward preventing law-abiding citizens from performing “step three” of the DHS plan.

This article discusses only a few ways to prepare for just one of the many potentially dangerous situations that are a reality these days.  To discuss more ways to prepare, use the comments section below or visit the new Training, Survival and Prepping forum on the GunLink website.

2 Responses to Preparing to Survive an Active Shooter Incident

  • GunLinkBlog says:

    A big thanks to Rob Pincus for sharing this resource with us:

    FREE School Attacker Response Course (SARC)

    The SARC Program is primarily meant for teachers and staff in the US school system (public, private and parochial). It is a step beyond the “hide & hope” policy at most schools.

    I.C.E. Training Company is working with a coalition of instructors nationwide to begin offering the “SARC” program to schools in 2013.

    This seminar is being offered for free by a coalition of professional personal defense instructors to public school faculty and staff in order to give them practical alternatives to the “Hide & Hope” strategies that are commonly being provided.

    The seminars last from 2-4 hours and can be taught during or after school hours.

    Topics include:

    Overview of typical School Attacks
    Escape & Evasion
    Improvised Defensive Tools
    Empowering Others to Act
    Unarmed Defense
    Group Defense Response

    If you know of other similar resources, feel free to share them here in the comments.

  • GunLinkBlog says:

    Another Active Shooter prep video from the LA Sheriff’s Department:


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