Active Shooter Situation: A Look at How to Respond

The recent Las Vegas attack, where at least 59 people died and more than 500 others were injured by an active gunman on the 32nd floor of a hotel, has re-ignited the thought in everyone’s mind around active shooter preparedness and the best way to respond in emergency situations. The definition of an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

As the shooting from the Las Vegas hotel began, some people initially thought the gunfire was actually the sound of fireworks going off. Others ran or took cover, jumping over fences and hiding behind walls to attempt to flee and guard themselves from the shooter.

Knowing that an active shooter situation can arise while traveling home or abroad, everyone should have an idea of how best to respond during an active shooter situation.

What should you do when there’s an active shooter situation?

According to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) Program at Texas State University, in the event of an active shooter, people should “avoid, deny and defend” if possible.

AVOID: Avoid the shooter by initiating a plan to exit the area quickly.

DENY: Make your location not easily accessible. This can be by creating a barrier to block the shooter, or becoming inconspicuous.

DEFEND: As a last resort, defend against the attacker. This is a last effort for survival.

In addition to this, people should remain vigilant in all situations; i.e., being aware and alert of their surroundings, identifying nearby exits and backup exits when arriving at a location, remaining alert should something go amiss during an event (for example, if the music stops in the middle of a concert), and listening to first responders’ instructions to safely escape the emergency situation.