Darceline Azor

According to recent data released by the Gun Violence Archive, there have been a total of 421 mass shootings in 2023 to date, with 85 incidents occurring in the month of July alone. In a world where gun violence, unfortunately, continues to rise, personal safety has emerged as a paramount concern for every individual. An awareness and knowledge base are critical first lines of defense when it comes to protection.

In this blog, we discuss seven essential steps to empower yourself during an active shooter scenario.

Step 1: Learn First-aid Skills

The reality is that active shooter incidents are unpredictable. They can happen at any time, anywhere. It is vital to learn and practice lifesaving first-aid skills, which are invaluable not only in active shooting scenarios but also in everyday life. The right first-aid techniques can significantly contribute to your well-being and the safety of those around you during an emergency.

Step 2: Establish and Maintain Situational Awareness

Always maintain awareness of your surroundings, even in places you are familiar with or frequent often. When entering a new location, take a moment to assess your environment. Familiarize yourself with exit points and potential escape routes to ensure your safety. Stay alert and vigilant to sounds and activity in the area. If you see something unusual, never be hesitant to speak up to local authorities or onsite security personnel.

Step 3: Prioritize Evacuation

In the event of an emergency, prioritize your safety by promptly evacuating the area if possible and regardless of whether others agree to follow. If inside a building, attempt to exit through the nearest door or window. Leave your belongings behind. In extreme situations, do not hesitate to use any available means, like a chair, to break open a window for escape. When outdoors, quickly move to a safe location away from any potential threat, keep your hands visible and follow the instructions of any onsite first responders.

Step 4: Incorporate the OODA Loop Strategy

The OODA Loop Strategy is a four-step approach to decision making and designed to promote effective responses in critical situations.

Observe: In an active shooter scenario, the initial and crucial step is to acknowledge the existing threat. While this may seem obvious, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to listen for potential warning signs. If you hear gunshots or see someone behaving erratically, take action immediately.

Orient: When you observe something that does not seem reasonable – or feel right – take notice. Pay attention to the unfolding situation and try to process it in preparation for optimal decision-making.

Decide: Determine your best course of action. What is your assessment of the threat? Do you have others with you? Are you alone? It is important decide quickly because time is of the essence.

Act: Once you make your decision, it is time for action. Do so with full commitment and without delay. You are in survival mode and in some cases, action may translate to engaging the threat and breaking away from passive behavior by disarming or incapacitating the shooter.

Step 5: Secure the Room if Hiding

While generally a last resort, if you are hiding in a room, be sure to lock the door and reinforce it by barricading it with furniture or any available objects. This will help to prevent the shooter from gaining easy access to your location. Remain still and quiet. If the shooter finds you, remain calm and mentally prepare to defend yourself with any and every resource.

Step 6: Call 911 if Possible

If you can, call 911 as soon and as safely as possible. Provide emergency services with any information relevant to the location, shooter(s), type of weapons, number of people at the location and any other specifics that may first responders and law enforcement to effectively address the situation.

Step 7: Follow the Instructions of Law Enforcement

Once law enforcement arrives at the scene, carefully follow their directions and evacuate in the direction they are coming from unless otherwise instructed. Do not approach the shooter and avoid the scene of the crime, allowing law enforcement to do their job.

Always bear in mind that each active shooter situation is unique. However, this framework of action steps can significantly improve your chances of survival.

For more information and resources on active shooter preparedness, download our Active Shooter Preparedness Guide.


To schedule a one-on-one consultation with an MSA subject matter expert, email info@msasecurity.net.

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