How to survive an active shooter

We are all at risk. Although we trust the police to repond and rush to our aid, they won’t save everyone. We must know what to do to save ourselves and those around us.

Within the past year there have been shootings causing injuries and fatalities in a church, a grocery, an elementary school, a holiday celebration, and a medical office.

Among the dead are employees, customers, grade school age children, teachers, physicians, a receptionist, a patient and spouse. Ethnically they were Caucasian, Black, Asian, and Hispanic. Men and women, boys and girls. And these are just the ones that I remember reading about.

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area, 

Active Shooter Resources-FBI

We are all at risk. Although we trust the police to repond and rush to our aid, they won’t save everyone. We must know what to do to save ourselves and those around us.

Safety professionals offer these guidelines that we should learn and remember. In the panic of the moment it will be difficult to think through a rational plan to survive. Be prepared every day; that may be the day you need it.


  1. Wherever you are, always know where the exits are, preferably ones you can easily and quickly reach; locate at least 2 if possible in case one becomes inaccessible.  
  2. Your first response to a threat should be escape; run to the nearest exit as soon as safely possible; go, even if others are not willing to go with you.
  3. Leave your stuff behind. Run with empty hands up and visible.
  4. Listen to police and answer their questions, try to give them accurate information about what is happening. Get away to a safe place and stay out of the responders’ way.


  1. If escape is not possible, then hide, preferably in a locked room. Push heavy furniture against the door.
  2. Silence your cell phone when hiding. If you can, call 911 but don’t speak if you might be heard by the shooter; just leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear.


  1. If neither escape or hiding is possible, then engage the shooter, try to disable the person with the gun.
  2. If you’ve been hiding, make a plan to defend yourself. If you are with other people, work together.
  3. Aim to control the weapon; work together to disable the shooter with anything you can use as a weapon. Attack the shooter verbally, yelling.

A coordinated ambush can incapacitate the attacker. You are fighting for your life-don’t fight fair.

Active Shooter Resources-FBI

This video from the FBI website graphically shows what to do when confronted with an active shooter situation, then details each step. Well worth watching.

exploring the HEART of health and safety

As I write this, funerals for two physician victims of recent shootings are happening in my city. We need action to end this vicious cycle of violence that has become another pandemic.

Note that these guidelines should coordinate with protocols in place at your school, church, or workplace. Your primary goal should always be your own safety, and that of others if possible.

photos of 2 men and 2 women who were victims of a mass shooting

Thanks to Kimberly for featuring this post at TRAFFIC JAM WEEKEND LINK PARTY


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