These days places we attend on a regular basis such as malls, concerts, nightclubs, churches, and sporting events are known as “soft targets” for mass shootings. Sadly, a term that was once only used in military settings is now in our everyday terminology. Soft targets are places that have lower security and larger crowds.
“Active shooter” is also a term we have come accustomed to using more than we should be. An active shooter is someone with a gun that is trying to kill as many people as possible - a mass shooting. The latest shooter took aim at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas by simply booking a hotel room overlooking the concert. He killed 58 people and injured hundreds more on October 1, 2017.
The chances of dying in a mass shooting are only one in 15,325, but using these tactics can save your life and the lives of others:
- Stay alert.
If you get caught in a mass shooting, be the person that is prepared and not paranoid and terrified. Once you come to terms with the fact that you could possibly find yourself in a mass shooting, you’ll learn to take precautions. It’s a smart idea to prepare for anything even if there’s a small chance of it happening.
- Be situationally aware.
When you are in a mall, theater or other soft target, having an idea of your location can come in handy during a worst case scenario. Pay attention to your entrances and exits. Move and create distance.Most people’s first instinct is to drop to the floor and hide, but most of the time you do have room to run. Note where the gunfire is coming from and move as quickly possible to the opposite direction, toward the nearest exit. A moving target is harder to hit, so move as quickly as possible and avoid lying down.
- Leave and keep going.
Once you have gotten out of the danger zone, keeping running, don’t stop and call 911. If you can help people without endangering yourself than do so. If you are stuck in a hiding space that is safe, stay there and wait for authorities to arrive. This could be minutes or hours , stay hidden.
- What if you are armed?
If you happen to be involved in a mass shooting and you are armed, engaging with the shooter might be tempting, but don’t. Engaging with the assailant should be a last resort. Experts suggest doing what civilians would do and either hiding or leaving and keep going.
- Contact the authorities.
Some believe this is the first thing that you should do, but only attempt to contact the authorities when you are safe. Don’t draw attention to yourself if the shooter is able to hear you on the phone.
Hopefully you'll never have to use any of this advice, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If you haven't already, sign up for text messages from Civil Dispatch and get alerts for severe weather and threats in your area.