1,043 people have been killed or wounded during active shooters incidents in the past 13 years. According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, “an active shooter incident refers to a person actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area and in most cases these active shooters use firearms and randomly choose their victims.” The fact that there have been 64 active shooter events in America has shifted the recommended response from a compliant and passive approach to active and aggressive. We can no longer wait for first responders to save us from active shooter incidents. The chance of survival is now placed on the victims. Every minute matters under these violence circumstances. Everyone needs to learn how to strategically defend against an active shooter.
I am not suggesting that first responders are not coming to save the victims of active shooter incidents. I am pointing out that if you are there – you are the first responder. In order to reduce or eliminate the number of causalities in these types of incidences your actions must be proactive. Strategic training is how all crisis must be approached. America needs to acknowledge that active shooter incidents are another possible crisis we might face. Americans need to add active shooter training to their crisis management schedule and prioritize it.
3 Reasons Why You Need to Learn & Train to Proactively Respond to an Active Shooter
1. If you’re there, you’re the first responder. According to the document, Active Shooter: How to Respond, produced by the US Department of Homeland Security:
Active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene. Training helps to prepare you both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
In 83% of active shooter incidences, the event is ended by force. If more individuals are trained to deal with these events, the shooter can be neutralized faster, saving lives. This is exactly what we saw on a train in France last year, when three US servicemen tackled an assailant armed with an AK-47, pistol and knife. No one was shot and likely dozens were saved. Therefore, training is relevant and everyone should learn.
2. Training builds confidence in your ability to do something, should it be necessary. Without training it is quite common to freeze. Proper training can mentally prepare us for the extreme stress if presented with a crisis like an active shooter incident. It is common for instructors to discuss our natural human responses to violence or impending violence. But it really boils down to “fight or flight”. These responses, given the proper context, are great and are hard wired into our DNA. However, the extreme and traumatic nature of an active shooter incident is likely to cause “freezing.”
“Freezing” is detrimental to survival and the “best case” outcomes. Hands down this is an uncomfortable topic to train; but without situational and realistic training you are more likely to “freeze” in this type of crisis. Active shooter training is relevant. With the assistance of studies like the FBI’s : A Study of Active Shooter Incidences in the United States between 2000-2013, we are able to utilize concise data to support that proactive scenario-based training will produce better outcomes. Active shooter training can offer a baseline precedence for this type of crisis that anyone can learn.
3. Training creates “target-free zones”. According to Attack Countermeasures Training Institute, High Impact Targets typically share five characteristics:
According to Ryan Hoover, Creator of Safer Campus Now program, which offers active shooter defense training to teachers and Co-Founder of Fit to Fight® explains, “The profile of the mass shooter in the US is not one of a warrior. He is not someone looking for a fight but rather body count. He chooses an elementary school or a movie theater, because he wants (and expects) little to no resistance. “
Publicizing that your school, company, library or office is a "target-free zone” is strategic. The professional sector should be embracing the need for active shooter training and then share it with their community. Active shooters are looking for easy ways to wipe out as many people as possible, with the least amount of opposition in a short period of time.
Be proactive and add active shooter training to your skills. Here is a look at what an active shooter training class looks like. If you are interested in training attend an Active Shooter Workshop on March 12th. School Teachers are FREE!.
After Sandy Hook, Fit to Fight®, through its Safer Campus Now program, started offering active shooter defense training, at no charge, to anyone that worked in a school system. Since then, it has been their mission to not only train as many educators and related employees as possible, but to train anyone that was willing to take responsibility for their safety and the safety of others. While overall gun violence in the US is down, incidences of mass shootings are on the rise. This should be enough to convince you that this training is vital for everyone.
Other stories demonstrating active shooter training.
Thank you to Ryan Hoover for contributing and collaborating on this story.