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The Cardiologist's Wife - Tips on Surviving an Active Shooter Event
Oct 11, 2017

If you watch current events at all, you are aware that shootings in public places are becoming increasingly common, a fact confirmed by the FBI. Situations involving active shooters happen quickly and are usually over in less than 10 minutes, well before law enforcement can arrive. The key point: your survival is in your hands so you should be prepared to react quickly to save yourself and those around you.

Unfortunately, our brain works against us in emergency situations. We have a tendency to freeze while our brain tries to assimilate an unfamiliar situation. That is why people think gun shots are fireworks or report later that traumatic events had a surreal quality to them. To optimize your chances, experts say you should plan to run, hide or fight.

In public places, remain aware of the situation and your surroundings at all times. Be familiar with the building where you work and know potential escape routes. If possible, run to escape the immediate area near the shooter. If you are in an open area, run in a zigzag pattern, making it harder to hit you. Leave even if no one else will and leave your belongings behind. Stop people from entering the area as you are leaving and avoid the temptation to assist the wounded. Call 911 only when you are safe. Follow the directions of police or security officers, keeping your hands visible so you are not mistaken for the shooter.

If evacuating is not possible, find the best place to hide. Lock the door of your office, blockade the door with furniture, turn off the lights, then hide behind something large or get in a closet. Remain out of sight. Silence your cell phone and any other source of noise like a radio. Call 911 but don’t speak if there’s a chance the shooter can hear you. Leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what’s happening.

Surprisingly, you can successfully take on a shooter even if you are unarmed. Most violent offenders don’t expect anyone to attack back. Charging the gunman gives you an advantage because he is definitely not expecting it. Approach from the side or behind; it’s even better if multiple people attack at once to create more distraction. Be aggressive and use lethal force until the shooter stops moving. Use anything as a weapon, even shining a bright light in his eyes can distract him. Get the gun away or at least try to grab it so you can control where it’s pointed.

Employers should have an emergency action plan in case the unthinkable happens. Key personnel like management and human resources should know the plan and have contact information for law enforcement, hospitals and family members. Children, customers or others will usually follow the lead of employees.

To help prevent workplace violence, foster a respectful working environment. Be aware of employee disagreements, especially those that escalate into violence and take necessary actions. Employees should be encouraged to report any incidents of aggressive behavior such as pushing, threatening or harassment.

Maintain a secure workplace. Do not leave doors propped open, unlocked or allow others without a security card to follow you into a building. Periodically inspect facilities for broken windows, doors or faulty security cameras.

While law enforcement is better equipped to deal effectively with these situations, they may not arrive in time. You will only have seconds to decide what to do, so thinking about these things now may save your life someday.

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