31 August 2012

Personal Respone to an Active Shooter

Once again we find ourselves in the wake of an active shooter incident, this last time in Colorado. From all accounts, the police did a great job responding to the situation. The problem is that even with their response, several people were injured, with one killed. If your company’s or institution’s internal response to an active shooter is calling the police and waiting for them to save you, that is the same as calling the fire department while sitting in a burning building.

It is time for people to get their heads out of the sand and realize that these things are going to continue to happen, and the citizenry must be prepared to take action.

First, understand movement in your facility. Movement is controlled by doors which compartmentalize areas. When the shooter’s movement is controlled, he is limited to killing in that area. When your movement is controlled, you are more likely to be killed. This is what happens in cafeterias and other gathering places. So, the first thing you can do is to always know where the exits are in any room you are in and where the doors lead to.

The second thing is using your ability to move to put a physical barrier between you and the shooter. As a general rule, untrained people will not shoot at what they cannot see. If you cannot get out of the building, know where to find interior rooms that only have one door. If the door does not lock from the inside, you need to make sure that the door opens in so that you can barricade it.

The third thing is to know how to treat a gunshot wound. You may have to treat yourself or others. Medicine 101 is that air goes in and out, blood goes round and round. You will likely have limited time, opportunity, and supplies to provide treatment, but the treatment you provide could not be more critical.

Bleeding treatment 101 is to –


Identify the source of the bleed
Apply direct pressure with something that will soak up the blood
Apply tourniquet if needed (you can only tourniquet extremities)

These three basic principles of personal response to an active shooter can save lives.

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