Active shooter incidents in the U.S. are on the rise. Between 2000-2020, there were 373 active shooter incidents in the country.1 According to the FBI, the majority of active shooter events in 2020 occurred in areas of commerce, which are targeted more frequently because they are easily accessible and open to the public.2 As a recent example, on May 14, a tragic shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets store in the Kingsley section of Buffalo, NY, left ten people dead and three others injured. This marked the 202 shooting incident so far this year.5 That same weekend, two people were killed and seven injured during separate shooting incidents at a church in Laguna Woods, CA, and a flea market in Houston, TX. Last month, Frank James set off smoke grenades and fired a handgun 33 times on a crowded train traveling toward the 36th Street station in Brooklyn, NY. Ten people were shot and a total of 29 were injured. These are just a few of the recent shooting incidents across the country. As attacks persist and rise, preparation and vigilance will help to protect your safety.
The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a conﬁned and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use ﬁrearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims."6 Fifteen minutes is the average time between the initiation of an active shooter event and the arrival of law enforcement personnel. In that time, the incident can be nearly or completely over. Organizations must be prepared to mitigate the threat and preserve life safety while first responders are en-route. Preparation prior to a potential event is the key to saving lives.
Prepare to Prevent
Every facility should have a plan in place that identifies and addresses the facility’s vulnerabilities with security measures to mitigate the risk of an active shooter incident. These measures are comprehensive and varied, including the deployment of a Canine Detection Team to help deter, detect and mitigate possible threats. Firearms Detection Canines are specially imprinted and trained to act as an effective tool for detecting gunpowder and gun cleaning solvents on a person or within a facility. With as many as 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose, canines are man’s best friend in detecting dangerous firearms and explosives within a variety of environments. Another important security measure is the creation of an Emergency Operations Plan. Like fire drills, regular active shooter drills should be implemented to educate and prepare employees for a potential incident.
During an Active Shooting Incident
In the event of an active shooter incident, the Department of Homeland Security advises people to utilize the “Run, Hide, Fight” method. When there is an active threat, run. Once you are safe, call 911. If escaping is not possible, hide. Block the doors to prevent the shooter from entering your hiding space. Avoid windows and silence your phone. Only as a last resort if your life is in danger, fight.
During and after an active shooter event, immediate medical attention will be required for individuals who are injured. The U.S. Military looked at data from casualties during the Vietnam War and learned that a few simple actions can make a big difference, especially before paramedics arrive with advanced medical care. One helpful technique is the ability to apply a tourniquet, which is a constricting band wrapped around an arm or a leg to cut off the blood supply and therefore stop bleeding. It is important to place a tourniquet high and tight. If someone is bleeding from a part of the body where a tourniquet won’t be useful, wadding up a cloth into a firm ball and applying pressure on the injury is recommended. Use two hands if possible and get your body weight over your arms. Hold firm pressure in the injured area for three full minutes. Anyone can learn how to perform these simple, potentially life-saving techniques without special training.
In addition to the recommendations shared within this blog, MSA Security®, An Allied Universal® Company, developed The Active Shooter Threat and Reducing the Risk to highlight recommendations to assist organizations of every size protect their people, property and assets.