During an active shooter situation, it may seem like help is never going to arrive. Rest assure that first responders are acting as swiftly and securly as possible to rescue you. Until relief arrives, remaining calm and being prepared will help your survival rate as well as those around you. We’ve covered this topic before in our blogs: Active Shooter Planning in a Healthcare Facility, Active Shooter Training, Reporting Suspicious Activity, What To Do During An Active Shooter Situation, Active Shooter Awareness
The thing that may not be at the forefront of our thoughts is what to do when law enforcement arrive during or after the situation. This can be equally as important in preparing for the unexpected. The average population has a tendency to panic, run, and think after. In unfortunate situations, injury can result from innocent by standards performing the wrong actions. When help arrives their mindset is to immediately search for and clear the danger causing the object. Any suspicious activity can be considered the “danger”. Ready Navy shared an insightful article covering what to expect when law enforcement arrives, what to do during and after as well. Below is the highlight of the article but, you can read the entire article here.
What to Expect When Law Enforcement Arrives
- Law enforcement’s immediate focus is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible.
- Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
- The first officers to arrive at the scene will not stop to help injured persons because their first priority is life safety. They will need to secure the scene first.
- Rescue teams composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow the first officers into secured areas to treat and remove the injured.
- Officers arriving on scene may be coming from many different duty assignments and agencies, and additional officers may arrive in teams.
- Officers will likely be in various types of uniforms, external bullet proof vests, Kevlar helmets and other tactical equipment, and even in street clothes. Do not be surprised by the variances in appearance; they are trained to work together.
- Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, and/or handguns and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
- Officers will shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.
- Expect that officers will treat the entire area as a crime scene and everyone with suspicion.
- Law enforcement will establish secure assembly points and will question all witnesses.
- Usually, officers will not allow anyone to leave designated assembly points until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and debriefed. Expect to remain in the secure area until authorities release you.
What to Do When Law Enforcement Arrives
- Remain calm and follow instructions.
- Do not attempt to assist unless specifically asked to do so by law enforcement personnel.
- Slowly put down any items in your hands (e.g., bags, jackets).
- Raise hands and spread fingers.
- Keep hands visible at all times.
- Avoid quick movements toward officers, such as holding on to them for safety.
- Avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling.
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, as they will be focused on finding and incapacitating the shooter to prevent further loss of life. Not adhering to officers’ instructions puts everyone in danger.
What to Do After Reaching a Safe Location or Assembly Point
- Identify yourself as a witness and relay any medical needs you may have.
- Answer any questions law enforcement authorities may have.
- Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.
- Seek medical care and counseling if needed.