Out of respect for the families impacted by recent active shooter incidents, I will refrain from my usual “firedogisms” in this post. Our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by these tragedies.
Unfortunately, a pattern has recently unfolded across the country. An active shooter opens fire on students during school, such as what occurred last month in Parkland, Fl., where 17 innocent victims lost their lives and –even more recently – in Maryland, where a 17-year-old student shot two others. This type of event spurs widespread panic and concern about campus safety. Students, parents and political pundits demand gun law reform, teacher armament and mental health awareness. Then, almost as immediately as the frenzy begins, conversations about the court of public opinion abound. But the issue remains. How can we keep American elementary, middle-school, high school and college students safe?
Active Shooter Campus Safety
Property managers and tenants, who may have sons or daughters, are encouraged to share these safety tips for dealing with an active shooter-related emergency. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS):
- Be aware of your environment and possible dangers.
- Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
- If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.
- If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
- As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her. Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.
Four steps to take in an active-shooter situation at school:
- Evacuate – Before you head out, plan your escape route, since time is of the essence. Leave your belongings behind so you can move quickly. Keep your hands visible always.
- Hide – Choose this option, if you can safely hide outside of the shooter’s view and reach. Block the entry to your hiding place and lock all doors. Silence your cell phone.
- Act – Only as a last resort, when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to incapacitate the shooter. Act with physical aggression and throw items at the assailant.
- Call – Dial 911 as soon as you can safely do so. Be prepared to provide information about the shooter(s) and victim(s):
- Location of the shooter
- Number of shooters
- Physical description of the shooter and types of weapons
- Number of potential victims onsite
After law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm
- Follow instructions
- Discard any items in your hands (bags, jackets, books, etc.)
- Raise your hands and spread your fingers.
- Keep your hands visible.
- Avoid quick movements toward officers. Never grab onto them for safety
- Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling.
- Do not stop for any reason while exiting the building.
Parents may contact campus police or the school safety office for more information and training about active shooter response. Make sure you are ready to handle disasters of any kind (on or off-campus) through the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services Training. For info on how Allied Universal secures higher education campuses, visit www.aus.com/highered.