Active shooter incidents in the U.S. have become more frequent in recent years, and educational institutions are one of the most commonly affected locations. According to statistics, schools and colleges come right after businesses in terms of active shooter incident frequency.
As a student, it’s important to understand the role each affected individual plays during such events. It is also vital to comprehend the steps that you can take to help address the situation at hand and potentially save lives. Below, a students’ guide on how to increase active shooter awareness, as well as prepare, prevent, and respond to an active shooter incident.
Active shooter definition
An active shooter is an individual who commits the crime of killing or attempting to kill people in an area that is populated and confined. As far as victim selection is concerned, an active shooter doesn’t use any particular method or pattern, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
It’s important to note that an active shooter event can take place at any time of the day, at any place, and that it typically occurs without any prior warning. Such situations are known to escalate quite rapidly, and the outcomes are very unpredictable. The event itself typically lasts no more than 15 minutes, and many attackers continue shooting and doing harm even after first responders have arrived at the crime scene.
Active shooter awareness
While there is no way of knowing when, where, and if an active shooter event will take place, there are ways to prevent it. The most important thing is to remain aware at all times, and understand the signs you should be looking for. One of the most common indicators of potentially violent behavior includes displaying aggressiveness towards peers. Withdrawing socially coupled with isolation are big contributing factors that could signal a potentially violent behavior, along with being a target of bullying.
Signs such as these often go unnoticed. When they don’t, they usually go unreported or end up not being addressed. The truth is, by recognizing these signs early on and responding as soon as possible, it can go a long way in preventing potentially tragic and devastating outcomes of school shootings.
Preparation for a potential active shooter incident
While raising active shooter awareness is important, it’s just as vital to create a sense of preparedness. One of the best ways schools and other educational institutions can ensure this is by providing students and staff with active shooter response training.
According to experts from Global Security Consulting Group, this course details survival strategies that could be of vital importance. From alert procedures and escape strategies to the use of improvised weapons and performing first aid procedures, a training like this provides individuals with both lifesaving techniques and active shooter response tactics. When employed in the event of an active shooter incident, these strategies can help address the bleeding emergency while waiting for the law enforcement professionals and medical teams to arrive at the scene.
Active shooter prevention practices
Many active shooter incidents take place without anyone else beside the shooter knowing about their plan. However, many of these events could have been prevented. In the majority of the cases involving an active shooter, the attacker had planned the event prior to carrying out the harm. An active shooter doesn’t just snap out of nowhere. They prepare for the attack, and many times, they’ll tell someone else about their plan.
The staggering fact is that as much as 80% of attackers talk to someone about their plan before implementing it. In more than 60% of cases, more than one person knows about the upcoming school shooting. Therefore, prevention of active shooter incidents is possible, and it involves recognizing potential threats, identifying would-be shooters, and intervening before the situation escalates. It’s also important to educate students on what to expect when the law enforcement professionals arrive, and that they’ll be followed by the arrival of the medical team.
Response to an active shooter incident
In the event of an active shooter incident, the main task is to protect your life and the lives of others. A quick response is vital in these situations, and knowing which steps you should take can mean a difference between life and death. There are several options in these instances, including:
· Running – evacuating safely by moving away from the impacted building and the sound of gunfire, taking other people with you and leaving belongings behind you, and then calling 911 when you’re at a secure place
· Hiding – silently hiding in a safe place, turning off any lights as well as your cellphone and closing windows and blinds
· Fighting – taking action against the shooter when that is your last resort with the aim to incapacitate them and then calling 911 when it can be done safely
Navigating the dynamic and unpredictable active shooter situations
There are different factors that come into play when it comes to students remaining safe during critical situations such as an active shooter event. From awareness to preparation to preparation and response, active shooter incidents require the right approach. By taking steps to educate yourself on the topic, you’ll be more equipped to deal with a potential critical situation and ensure a better outcome for everyone involved.