In a scene that has become all too common in American society, at approximately 11 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, (8 a.m. local time), the Naval Medical Center San Diego reported an ongoing active shooter incident, with reports of multiple shots echoing in the facility’s basement.
“An active shooter has just been been reported in building #26 at Naval Medical Center San Diego. All occupants are advised to run, hide or fight. All non-emergency response personnel are asked to stay away from the compound, located at 34800 Bob Wilson Drive, San Diego, CA 92134” officials posted on their Facebook page.
It should be noted in their alert via social media that Naval Medical Center officials advised, rather than the commonly-heard “shelter in place” order, for people on the scene to use the steps of “Run, Hide, or Fight.”
Increasingly, this is becoming the directive for people caught in the midst of an active shooter scenario. Other organizations use the terms “Avoid, Deny, Defend,” but they mean the same thing. However, the moment an active shooter incident is occurring is not the time to learn what they entail. Knowing ahead of time what these terms mean, and how to react in during a harrowing experience involving an active shooter can go a long way toward your own safety.
“Run” or “Avoid” – Just as it sounds, it means your first and foremost responsibility is to get away from the location. Get out, get out, get out. Do not worry about your personal items. There will be time to get your purse, or packages (if you’re out shopping), or laptop, or cell phone, or anything else, later. This is also not the time to pull out your cell phone and start video recording the incident.
If the primary exit is blocked, look for alternative exits. The front door could be barred by hostile activity, so look toward windows, false ceilings, or possibly even thin walls that could provide routes for escape.
“Hide” or “Deny” – If you determine there is no clear path for you to escape the location, then this is when you look for locations where you can securely prevent the active shooter from coming to you. Perhaps you’re caught in a bathroom, or a classroom, or office. If this is the case, do all that you can to bar entry into the room. Locking doors is a first step, but also block the entrance with the heaviest items you can find.
At the same time, if the door to the room you are in has windows, make sure no one can be seen through those windows. The lights in the room should be turned off, and everyone in the room should be as quiet as possible to make it seem as if the room is unoccupied.
And while you’re doing this, continue to look for alternative escape routes. If one is found, once again, get out to safety.
“Fight” or “Defend” – Clearly this is the final option, and one some people could have difficulty with. The important part to remember here: the people committing the violence did not come looking for a “fair fight”, so don’t try to give them one. The person or people perpetrating the violence are there for one reason – to cause people, like yourself, harm. They did not come there looking for a debate, or to bargain.
If you can hit them from behind, if you can jump them with multiple people, if you can brandish weapons – even makeshift ones like the items in the room – then do so, knowing that this is commentary on the people that started the violence, and not yourself.
Unfortunately, knowing how to react in a violent situation is becoming more of a necessity in our society. If you’re caught in one of these horrible situations, it will be a highly-stressful moment in which some people, even those that feel they are prepared, can succumb to the emotions of the situation and potentially react illogically. The best way to prepare against this is to know what to do ahead of time.