Devising and practicing plan will save you from an active shooter

  • Published
  • By Brandice J. O'Brien
  • Tinker Public Affairs
Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan changed the face of American history.

Following his attack that killed and wounded 44 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, the perception of security on military installations changed, leaving many to wonder, "Who could be an active shooter?"

The answer is simple; anyone could do it. Look at Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two high school students who massacred 12 students and a teacher in Colorado in April 1999.

Ultimately, the seemingly random nature of the crime only makes the job of the 72nd Security Forces Squadron much more challenging. Should something occur here, officials said Tinker personnel must do their part to protect themselves and the base.

"There is no set profile for an active shooter," said Senior Airman Elijah Langhorne, 72nd SFS member. "It can be someone who is supposed to be there, or it can be an outside person who's walked into a place that has general access. It could be disgruntled person with a premeditated target, or someone who just snapped and is acting at random."

By having a plan in place, danger can be avoided and lives can be saved. In fact, Airman Langhorne said having a plan and practicing what-if scenarios are crucial. He compared it to the value of a first-aid kit.

"No one carries around a first-aid kit hoping to use it," he said, "but they have it; they're prepared."

A plan can include what to do if there's a confirmed report of a shooter in the workplace, and where to meet if an escape is possible.

No matter what the plan includes, Airman Langhorne said never purposely confront the shooter. Let security forces handle that situation. Responding personnel are there to neutralize the shooter and restore order.

"My job is to run toward danger instead of away from it when there's a situation," he said. "It's what I signed up for and am trained for. It's my job."

After all, there's no telling the intent of the shooter. He may be after a single target or be on a mission to kill as many people as possible. He may want to commit suicide or be put in a situation where an officer has no other choice but to kill the shooter.

If a confrontation with the shooter cannot be avoided, Airman Langhorne said to try and distract the shooter and make an avenue for an escape. Self defense should be used only as last resort.

Tips to protecting yourself and workplace against an active shooter
· Set a rally point in which you can hide yourself from pending danger. Make sure you are able to close and lock doors and make space appear as though it is unoccupied.
· Place labels over light switches and at doors to help you remember information you need to tell a 911 operator or things you need to do if in case of an emergency.
· Silence cell phones and pagers.
· Call 911 and give as much information as possible - number of shooters, kind of weaponry being used or what kinds of sounds the gun makes, position of the shooter(s). If you're not able to talk, leave the line open allowing the operator to hear what's going on in the background.
· If you've called 911 once, do not call back unless there is a drastic change. You're only tying up the lines and preventing help from coming to you.
· If trapped in a room, stay there until someone comes to get you.
· If you are able to leave, do not take belongings. Keep your hands empty. Put your hands in the air with your fingers separated. The calmer you are the better.
· If you are asked questions, give direct answers.
· Do not voluntarily stop to talk to first responders. They are not there to offer first aid or console you. Their first priority is to find the shooter and neutralize him.