Active Shooter Response Training

Active Shooter Response Training

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Having personally survived a school shooting, I can tell you why training for an Active Shooter event is something everyone needs to be doing.

By now, we’ve learned that the threat is real; it’s past time to confront this new reality with preparation and awareness training.

Natural Stress Response

Let’s talk about the brain.

When confronted with extreme physical violence, our ‘caveman’ brain takes over—this is your body’s way of putting you on autopilot in order to survive.

And the first thing our primal autopilot does in these situations is freeze our body in motion.

So even if you wanted to ‘run, hide, or fight’ when exposed to an active shooter event, the brain’s auto response is to stop you from moving.

Because the brain is wired to keep you alive and freezing is part of our natural defense system.

Now, the freezing reaction is accompanied by the release of hormones like adrenaline that help mobilize your energy and focus your attention.

However, that chemical release may block your brain from taking decisive, lifesaving action.

The challenge is to re-wire your brain’s primal response, to override the autopilot.

That’s why training is so important.

See, people don’t rise to the occasion, they fall to their lowest level of training, and that’s letting your physiological autopilot take control.

You can train yourself to think and stay calm, when your body is experiencing the surge of hormones that make clear thinking difficult.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you.

It’s important because paying close attention to your surroundings —people, places, things, will help you better recognize potential threats.

Fundamentally, it’s a mindset of being present and aware by anticipating emergency situations and planning your response.

There are ways to develop situational awareness.

For example, you can and should work to identify at least two exits routes wherever you are.

Think, how will you remove yourself from a crowded area or small area with one-way out?

Would you recognize gunfire if you heard it?

When you look around you, what looks out of place?

Are doors that are normally locked,suddenly unlocked?

Are lights off when they should be on?

Staying alert can help you stay alive.

Taking Action

Active shooter events develop quickly and without order.

The rule is that proximity to an active assailant dictates action.

For example, if an active shooter comes through the door of small meeting room, hiding or running may be difficult and unwise.

Remember also that your natural response—freezing, fleeing, or fighting—may be the wrong thing to do.

If you can evacuate, you should. Move fast, stay low, and keep moving until reaching safety.

And when you do feel safe, call 911.

Now, if you cannot safely evacuate, take cover and barricade.

Get behind as many locked doors as possible—distance and obstacles increase the chance of survival, as active shooters look for easy targets, first.

If it is not possible to move away from the shooter, or safely shelter in place, defend your life by fighting for it, matching force and intensity as much as possible. Statistics tell us active shooters don’t negotiate.

Remember that there is strength in numbers.

And we all have a constitutional right to defend our lives.

Responding to Law Enforcement

According to Homeland Security statistics, the average police response time in an active shooter event is 18 minutes.

And 70% incidents ended in 5 minutes or less.

That’s why dialing 911 is critically important, but not more important than creating distance between you and life-threatening violence.

Law enforcement has one mission in these situations: end the violence. So, expect aggression, expect them to be moving fast and expect to see weapons drawn. Here’s a list of what to do:

Make no mistake—Active Shooter Response training will not stop an assailant from committing an act of violence, but it may increase your chances of survival.

And that’s really what this is all about—lowering the body count.

Remember that it is better to have a plan and not need it, than to need a plan and not have it.

Until next time, stay positive and stay safe.

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