Thursday, August 13, 2015

There's an active shooter in the building - what now?

by William Hilton
USARAK Protection program manager

8/13/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- One of the greatest threats to our community's safety is an active shooter incident, as these types of attacks are very unpredictable and most come with little to no warning.

There may be almost no reaction time, so you must protect yourself any way you can.

All of us have heard "know your surroundings," but how many of us truly practice this in our incredibly busy lives?

Practicing this "situational awareness" pays dividends in everything we do, including reacting to various types of criminal and life-threatening situations, where quick, informed decision-making may save the day.

There are some immediate actions you can rely upon during an active shooter incident - evacuate, hide out, and take action.

The first and most important action is to attempt to leave the scene or building, as quickly and safely, as possible.

Evacuating the scene may not be easy to accomplish; however, the idea during an active shooter situation is to remove yourself from the incident site, if at all possible.

Don't stop to pick up personal belongings, lock doors or treat the wounded. Get to safety as quickly as possible.

When escape is not possible, the second action to take is to hide - anywhere which provides the best protection. Lock yourself in an office and hide under a desk or behind filing cabinets.

Stay low and avoid standing behind doors or walls if at all possible, as active shooters will shoot through them, especially if they are looking for specific targets, as seen during the recent Fort Hood shooting, when Sgt. Danny Ferguson barricaded the door.

The third and least-recommended action is to attack the assailant. This is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted as a last resort. If you feel you have no chance to escape or hide, attacking may be your only option.

When individuals come to the point of being an active shooter, in most cases they are not afraid of death - and may have
no feelings for those people they are shooting.

They are normally motivated by anger, being an outcast or seeking revenge.

In some cases, they are motivated and are supported by terrorists or extremist views, but in almost all cases they cannot be stopped unless they are stopped by law enforcement or suicide.

At the end of the day, you play a critical role in promoting our communities safety.

By applying the iWATCH phrase "See Something, Say Something" and reporting suspicious activities and behaviors to your supervisor or local law enforcement office, you may one day prevent such an incident from happening.

With that said, you may do everything right and still be faced with an active-shooter incident like that at Fort Hood, requiring you to take action by following the "evacuate, hide out, take action" principle. 

For more information and training resources, contact your unit or installation antiterrorism officer.

If you see something suspicious, contact law enforcement, call iWatch Army at 384-0823 or 384-0824, or Air Force Eagle Eyes at 552-2256 or 552-4444.
On Fort Wainwright, call 353-7710.

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