Active Shooter Training for Educational Institutions, Houses of Worship and Corporate Clients
Shots fired is the last thing you'd expect to hear on campus or in your workplace. While the possibility of being involved in an active shooter incident may be remote, the consequences can be catastrophic. That's why it makes good sense to spend some time now thinking and preparing for it. Dynamic Force Institute and DFI Security Solutions have specialized instructors that prepare students, faculty, and staff to have a survival mindset for such an incident. They further train the community in how law enforcement will respond to an active shooting situation and what pre-incident behaviors of concern are.
Conventional wisdom and current training curriculums dictate the Run/Hide/Fight methodology. We teach this accepted curriculum, as well as advanced and more aggressive responses. 
AVOID – DENY – DEFEND
Avoid (Run)
If it is safe to do so, the first course of action that should be taken, is to run out of the building and move far away until you are in a safe location. Faculty, staff and students will be trained to:
Leave personal belongings behind;
Visualize possible escape routes, including physically accessible routes for faculty, staff and students with disabilities and others with access and functional needs;
Avoid escalators and elevators;
Take others with them but not to stay behind because others will not go;
Call 911 when safe to do so

Deny (Hide)
If you find that you cannot get away from the shooter by exiting the structure, you must now move to deny the shooter unfettered access to you and those around you. In addition:
Lock the doors;
Barricade the doors with heavy furniture;
Close and lock windows, and close blinds or cover windows;
Turn off lights;
Silence all electronic devices;
Remain silent;
Use strategies to silently communicate with first responders if possible, (e.g., in rooms with exterior windows make signs to silently signal law enforcement and emergency responders to indicate the status of the room’s occupants);
Hide along the wall closest to the exit but out of the view from the hallway (allowing for an ambush of the shooter and for possible escape if the shooter enters the room); 
Remain in place until given an ALL CLEAR by identifiable law enforcement.

Defend (Fight)
If neither your attempt to avoid or deny access has succeeded, as a last resort when confronted by the shooter, adults in immediate danger should consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers, chairs, etc. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases, they physically subdued the attacker. On site personnel trained in the proper use of firearms and with approved access to a firearm are the most effective way to stop an attack. We offer this training as well, including annual certifications.
While talking to faculty, staff and students about confronting a shooter may be daunting and upsetting for some, they must know that they may be able to successfully take action to save lives.
Faculty, staff, students, and employees will be trained to understand and expect that law enforcement’s first priority must be to locate and stop the person or persons believed to be the shooter(s); all other actions are secondary. Faculty, staff and students will be trained to cooperate and not to interfere with first responders. When law enforcement arrives, faculty, staff and students must display empty hands with open palms. Law enforcement may instruct everyone to place their hands on their heads, or they may search individuals.
Advanced Concepts
“Run, Hide, Fight?”- Not Always the Best Active Killer Response

After the terrorist knife attack on the campus of The Ohio State University, and initially believing that the terrorist was armed with a gun, university officials sent warnings to students urging them to “Run, Hide, Fight.”  Surprisingly to me, several students responded to the warnings by asking “What does that mean?”  Here is a quick guide about which response option you should consider in the wake of a terrorist attack.

The Ohio State University Police Department put out a video titled “Surviving an Active Shooter.”  The crux of the message in the video is that the best chance for surviving an active shooter is to follow the hierarchical advice of running as a first choice, hiding as a second choice, and fighting as a last resort option. They seem to be trying to teach a large number of people some simple rules of thumb to survive an active killer attack.  That’s an admirable goal.  Most of the information in the video is perfectly fine.  My problem with it is that in their quest to “dumb down” tactics so that the majority of the population can understand and remember them, some essential nuance remains unexplored.  “Run, Hide, Fight” might be appropriate for many situations, but it clearly ISN’T the best plan for many other active shooter events.

The first problem with the video is that it fails to even mention armed resistance as a response option.  Statistically, the absolute best way to survive an active shooter event is not by running, hiding, or fighting with chairs and fire extinguishers.  The best survival results for everyone involved occur when an armed citizen or police officer kills or otherwise physically incapacitates the active shooter.
 
Active killers have historically stopped their attack as soon as they have been met with EFFECTIVE resistance.  Although many folks have effectively resisted while unarmed, the most effective way to target an armed killer is to use a firearm.  I have reviewed a number of white papers that describe numerous incidents when armed citizens have stopped active killers.  Please note that in each of these cases, the armed citizen was not harmed by the killer.  Also, in each example the killer stopped his rampage without shooting another round as soon as he was confronted by the armed citizen.  Having an uninjured citizen responder combined with no further casualties among the killer’s intended victim pool is the best possible outcome during a mass murder event.  That rarely happens unless the courageous resisting citizen is carrying a firearm.
 
The video is produced by a university that happens to be a “gun free zone.”  The chances of students or faculty members being armed are extremely small.  But the reach of the video exceeds university property. Undoubtedly, many people not affiliated with the university will watch the video.  It is problematic when the “authorities” fail to even mention a potential victim’s BEST course of action.
 
Besides the issue of not mentioning armed resistance, the “Run, Hide, Fight” model has a few other problems.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Let’s look at each response option and evaluate its potential strengths and weaknesses:
 
Run:  The officer in the video makes the statement: “Running away should ALWAYS be your first priority.”  This statement is categorically untrue.  While running often yields excellent results in an active killer event and I recommend it as a general tactic, there are many times when running should not be your first choice.
 
One prime reason running may be a bad option is the lack of physical conditioning among the “target” population.  With more than half of our citizens overweight or obese, why do we think they can run away from the average college age male (the majority of school shooters are young men)?  Our McDonalds guzzling and flip-flop-wearing population stands little chance against a college aged male in a sprint.
 
If unarmed, you should think about running as a response if there is a good chance you can get away before the killer sees you.  Here are some situations where you may NOT want to make running your top choice:
 
• You can’t run (either from being overweight or from some physical infirmity)
• You have young children in tow who will slow you down
• The power has been cut and running in the dark may be hazardous
• You are wearing clothes or footwear that makes running impossible
• When running towards the building’s exit will take you into the path of the killer
• When you are within a very close distance of the killer. You aren’t going to outrun a bullet when you      are five feet away from the gunman
 
If I were in any of the above situations, I would consider another option before I took off running.
 
Hide:  If running isn’t an option, the video recommends that victims should hide from the killer.  I have very mixed feelings about this advice.  Sometimes hiding is an effective tactic.  Sometimes it fails miserably.  Some examples of failure were the Virginia Tech shooting and the Sandy Hook shooting.  Students tried to hide under desks or in closets in both massacres.  Most of the hiding students were shot down by the killer.  Let’s face it.  There aren’t very many good hiding places in the average school classroom.
 
Hiding makes good sense only when you have the following conditions:

• You are in a room that can be effectively barricaded and locked.  That generally means that the door does not have a window the shooter can knock out and that the door contains a quality deadbolt or crossbar lock.  Most school classroom doors don’t meet this criteria
• Your hiding place has an alternate escape route.  Locking down, barricading, or hiding in a location that doesn’t have an escape route means that you will be forced to fight the shooter if he breaches your hiding spot.
• It is a temporary maneuver to buy you a little time because police are on the way.
• You are unable to escape due to age, infirmity, or proximity to the shooter.
• “Playing dead” by hiding among other injured and dead bodies has occasionally worked.  It has also failed miserably.  At Virginia Tech, the killer made a second pass and shot everyone a second time if they were laying on the ground without moving.  If you are wounded, can’t run, and the killer is focusing on other targets, hiding by playing dead may be an effective option.

I would place hiding nearly last on the list of options for the majority of active killer events unless you are locked or barricaded in a very secure (hardened) location.  As I stated above, there are rarely suitable hiding locations to be found in the average classroom.

Fight: The video suggested that this option is a “reaction that should only be used as a last resort.”  I vehemently disagree with this statement.  There are many situations where fighting should be your FIRST option.  Researcher and trainer Ron Borsch has been studying active killer incidents for years. In his research, he has found that in roughly 2/3 of all active killer events that are stopped on scene, an UNARMED citizen stopped the killer. That citizen stopped the killer by FIGHTING.  Imagine what the fatality statistics would be if all of these fighters chose to run instead.  Fighting is a viable option (and potentially a first choice of action) when:

• The killer is very close (within arms reach).  Very few other tactics will work at this range.
• You are armed…even with a pocket knife, blunt instrument, or pepper spray
• You can set up an effective ambush
• Your lockdown has been breached.
• You have fighting skills or are among a large group of people who are willing to act together
• You notice that the killer has a weapon malfunction or is in the act of reloading and his weapon is not immediately available
• The killer sets down or drops his weapon

Proper response tactics for an active killer require an analysis of your own abilities, the environment where the violence is occurring, the presence of help, the response time of the local police, and the killer’s weapons/tactics.  They can’t be codified into a simple “Run, Hide, Fight” playbook.  “Run, Hide, Fight” is certainly a better response option than passively freezing, but anyone who is truly interested in his own safety must temper this simple, dumbed-down dictum with logic and think for him/herself. 

Course Overview
An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and other populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.
All employees can help prevent and prepare for potential active shooter situations. This course provides guidance to individuals, including managers and employees, so that they can prepare to respond to an active shooter situation.
This course is not written for law enforcement officers, but for non-law enforcement managers, educators and employees. The material may provide law enforcement officers information on recommended actions for non-law enforcement employees to take should they be confronted with an active shooter situation.
Course Objectives:
Upon completing this course, the participant will be able to:
Describe actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and responding law enforcement officials.
Recognize potential workplace violence indicators.
Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents.
Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident.

Primary Audience
All individuals, including managers and employees.

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