Surviving Active Shooter Terrorist Attacks
An active shooter, intent on harming many people, has become a topic of great concern throughout the world. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the terrorist attacks on 9-11. However, DHS can trace its roots back to the Civil Defense days of World War II. As civil defense changed to emergency management, one constant has been an emphasis on preparedness. An all-hazards emergency preparedness program must include the consideration of a active shooter type terrorist attack.
Keys to surviving a terrorist assault, such as an active shooter, and minimizing casualties are situational awareness , planning and training to facilitate early recognition and escaping the initial assault. A typical lockdown response will only aid the terrorists by effectively –putting hostages under their control. Once the attackers have taken control of the facility, a locked office door will be all that remains between terrorists and civilians. A locked door will not be enough.
Lessons learned from previous active shooter attacks have led DHS, FEMA, the FBI and many other agencies to recommend an evolution beyond the outdated lockdown only plan – to integrate Run-Hide-Fight Survival Options as best practices in response to an active shooter type attack. Run-Hide-Fight are not in and of themselves a curriculum, they are Survival Options and as with all elements of emergency plans these options require training to help staff understand when and how they are implemented.
Run-Hide-Fight is not only an active shooter response best practice, when properly trained, it is also a terrorist attack response best practice. Run-Hide-Fight is not a linear progression. One common misperception of Run-Hide-Fight is that Run is always your first option. Response is based on two key factors: your proximity to the threat (contact) and your location.
The formula for surviving a violent attack is:
Contact + Location = Response
- Direct Contact: There are no barriers between your location and the active shooter and the attacker is close enough to pose an immediate danger.
- Indirect Contact: The active shooter is inside or near your facility/general area but distance or barriers delay the attacker’s ability to harm you.
- Responsibilities: Understanding how your responsibilities to help others, such as persons with special needs, is a vital factor when determining response.
- Securable Location: A location that can provide a degree of protection from an attacker. This includes rooms with doors that may be secured and has minimal interior windows from the hallway to the room. A securable location may be conducive to a HIDE or lockdown
- Non-securable Location: A location that offers no protection from an attacker. This includes hallways or common spaces that do not have doors that could be secured. A non-securable location does not deny access and is not conducive to a Hide.
Public sector leaders must prepare for a new level of public safety response to confront a terrorist takeover situation. However, the immediate civilian response to a terrorist assault closely mirrors best practice response to an active shooter type attack.
|About the author:
Brad Spicer is the founder of SafePlans, a leading provider of all-hazards preparedness solutions including a DHS designated anti-terrorism technology and national active shooter prevention and survival program.